US will not allow Assad to murder civilians with chemical weapons: Secretary of Defense

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The US Secretary of Defence James Mattis (C). File photo

ARA News

The United States Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis on Monday said that the US will not allow the Syrian government to use chemical weapons against Syrian civilians again.

“The U.S. military strike against Shayrat airfield on April 6 was a measured response to the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons,” Mattis said.

“The president directed this action to deter future use of chemical weapons and to show the United States will not passively stand by while Assad murders innocent people with chemical weapons, which are prohibited by international law and which were declared destroyed,” he added.

According to the assessment of the Department of Defense, the strike resulted in the damage or destruction of fuel and ammunition sites, air defense capabilities, and 20 percent of Syria’s operational aircraft. “The Syrian government has lost the ability to refuel or rearm aircraft at Shayrat airfield and at this point, use of the runway is of idle military interest,” the US Secretary of Defence said.

“The Syrian government would be ill-advised ever again to use chemical weapons,” Mattis added.

Moreover, a spokesperson of the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) said the goal of the operation was not to make the Airfield inoperable.

“It was not our intention to make the Syria Shayrat Airfield inoperable. It was our intention to degrade Syrian’s capability to perform chemical attacks. We targeted fuel reserves, aircraft, and did not target chemical weapons storages,” he said.

The al-Shayrat airfield was bombed with 59 US Tomahawk cruise missiles fired from warships in the Mediterranean last Friday.

The US strike on the Shayrat airfield in Homs province on Friday followed a suspected chemical attack that killed dozens of civilians in the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun.

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg | Source: ARA News

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