Syria Might Be Making New Chemical Weapons

White Helmet civil defence worker breathes oxygen after suspected chlorine attack in Douma

Mattis' threat appeared to be in reference to the US military strikes on a Syrian airfield last April, which were in retaliation for a chemical attack carried out by the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad days earlier, Politico reported.

Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisTrump goes dark on Russian Federation and the real threat to our State of the Union The Hill's 12:30 Report Report: Mattis considering personal cellphone ban at Pentagon MORE hinted Friday that the United States would strike the Syrian regime again if it uses sarin gas, but added that the United States has no evidence it has used the nerve agent recently. After another alleged attack in April, President Donald Trump ordered a retaliatory missile strike, but 10 months later, the USA and global observers say the weapons are still used.

Mattis was referring to the when the USA launched Tomahawk missiles against Syria in response to a chemical weapons attack that killed dozens of civilians.

USA officials have said the Syrian government may be also developing new types of chemical weapons.

They said information gathered from recent alleged attacks also suggested that Assad retained a "continued production capacity" - also banned under the 2013 deal.

There were no indications that the Syrian government, after seven years of civil war, had developed new, deadlier chemicals.

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"We are even more concerned about the possibility of sarin use", said Mattis.

The two officials, speaking anonymously as a condition of the briefing, further warned that if Syria's behavior is allowed to continue, it could serve as a green light to other bad actors that could spell a chemical attack on US shores.

The officials who spoke to reporters would only talk anonymously. Instead of the sarin gas used in April, which requires sophisticated assembly and deployment by an air force, the recent attacks have used chlorine gas, which can simply be dumped out of a truck.

Though ISIS no longer controls large parts of Syria or Iraq, the officials said the extremist group continues to use sulfur mustard, via artillery shells, and chlorine, delivered by improvised explosive devices.

He accused Russia of violating its own commitments under a 2013 US-Russia agreement to rid Syria of its chemical weapons stockpiles and an worldwide treaty that bars their use.

In his remarks Friday, Mattis alluded to the April attack, saying, "So they'd be ill-advised to go back to violating" the worldwide prohibition on the use of chemical weapons.

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