Pentagon does not have evidence of Chlorine, Sarin use in Syria’s Douma – Mattis
US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told lawmakers in Congress that the US military does not have evidence that either chlorine or sarin were used in an alleged chemical attack in the Syrian town of Douma, adding that the Pentagon’s only proof that such an incident occurred has come from social media and media reports.
“There have been a number of these attacks. In many cases, you know we don’t have troops, we’re not engaged on the ground there, so I cannot tell you that we had evidence, even though we had a lot of media and social media indicators that either chlorine or sarin were used,” Mattis said, speaking to members of the House Armed Services Committee on Thursday.
The defense secretary said that he did believe that a chemical attack took place, but that the US was still “looking for the actual evidence.”
“We’re still assessing the intelligence, ourselves and our allies. We’re still working on this,” he reiterated.
Warning that he was concerned that a US military strike might lead to an “out of control” escalation in the Syrian war, Mattis said that Washington was “committed to ending that war through the Geneva process through the UN orchestrated effort.”
“On a strategic level, [the issue is] how do we keep this from escalating out of control, if you get my drift on that,” he said.
Mattis promised to keep Congress informed if the Pentagon decided to strike in Syria. Asked if the US was ready to attack, Mattis replied that “We stand ready to provide military options if they’re appropriate, as the president determined.”
The defense secretary also accused Moscow of complicity in Syria’s alleged retention of a chemical weapons stockpile.