The Syrian government has an unspecified number of chemical weapons. Already, they have dispersed their aircraft after a United States missile attack earlier in April. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis says that the chemical weapons are active and retained, reports The Washington Post.
During a tour of the Middle East, Mattis and Avigdor Lieberman addressed reports that Syria’s President, Bashar al-Assad, still has a vast number of chemical weapons at his disposal. The retention of those chemical weapons is a direct violation of Syria’s agreement to remove all weapons.
Mattis would not elaborate on how many weapons Syria possesses, nor did he reveal his source of intelligence, reports the LA Times.
United States Deploying Another Strike?
The attack released against Syria did not seem to make a difference to the Syrian president. Therefore, the United Nations Security Council is considering how they will handle the situation. Furthermore, they warned Syria that they would be ill-advised to use such weapons again and, as evidenced by the strike issued earlier in the month.
Israeli defense officials speculate that there are three tons of chemical weapons in Syria’s possession. These weapons can carry out deadly chemical attacks, and they are the same as those used in the devastating attack earlier this month.
Lieberman would not go into detail, but he states that he is 100 percent sure that the Assad regime has and will use chemical weapons again to stop the rebels.
Retention of these arms is a direct violation of the 2013 agreement Syria made to hand over all chemical weapons to the international community. Syria has retained those arms and is aware of their contract violation. Furthermore, their retention only makes it clearer that they intend to use those weapons again soon.
Nerve Agents Suspected
After the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons had conducted their testing on the earlier attacks, they stated that the results indicate victims had symptoms of a nerve agent known as sarin. Syria’s ally, Russia, said that their air strike took out several depots full of chemical munitions, but the international community has yet to confirm.
On April 7, 2017, the United States released cruise missiles at the Shayrat airbase in Syria as their response to the chemical weapon attack in Idlib. The attack happened just three days before the U.S. strike and killed more than 100 people, including 30 children.
The same aircraft that conducted that first chemical attack has departed from Shayrat airfield. An unnamed military officer has told reporters that it is unclear if the chemical weapons the president has are sarin gas or chlorine gas. Chlorine gas has been used during their five-year-long civil war.
Previously, sarin was used in an attack in 2013, which killed hundreds. It was then that a last-minute deal between Russia and Syria made the country promise to destroy all chemical weapons in their possession.
For now, the matter will be handled diplomatically, reports the U.S. Though, no one is sure what diplomatic measures will stop a man from using chemical warfare on his people.