Any gas attack in Syria would be ‘very unwise’: US defense secretary

Muscat US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said on Sunday that it would be "very unwise" for the Syrian regime to use gas as a weapon against the people of Eastern Ghouta and elsewhere, AFP reported.

Mattis's warning came amid reports Assad regime forces have used chlorine gas in the opposition-held Eastern Ghouta, and he underscored his remarks by referencing President Donald Trump's strike on a Syrian airbase after an alleged chemical attack last year.

"We have made it very clear that it would be very unwise to use gas against people, civilians on any battlefield," Mattis told reporters accompanying him on a trip to Oman.

"I just want to reiterate that it would be very unwise for them to use weaponized gas, and I think President Trump made that very clear early in his administration."

Mattis said he was aware of "an awful lot of reports about chlorine gas use or about symptoms that could be resulting from chlorine gas," but indicated he did not have conclusive evidence.

Trump last April ordered a missile strike against a regime airbase at Shayrat, after Washington said it used the facility to launch a sarin nerve gas attack on the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhun, killing scores of civilians.

Mattis declined to say whether the use of gas would represent some sort of trigger that would prompt a US military response. "The president has full political manoeuver room to take the decision that he believes appropriate," he said.

"There are other Western nations that have been in contact with us that are watching this very closely and are completely aligned with us and what I just said -- that it would be very unwise for someone to use gas," he added.

Source: International Islamic News Agency