Published: Sun, April 23, 2017
World | By Paul Elliott

Mattis: Syria retains chemical weapons

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis says Syria still possesses banned chemical weapons.

U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis, left, meets with Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, center, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right.

Both men agreed "to issue instructions for pondering a possibility to organize an independent investigation on the (Khan Sheykhun) incident, under the aegis of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)" Russian Foreign Ministry said in a press release. "There is no longer any doubt", he told reporters.

The United States launched a cruise missile attack against a Syrian airbase earlier this month after accusing the government forces of carrying out a chemical attack in which many people were killed.

The United States wants to make its relationship with Israel "the strongest ever", said Mattis, who added the US intends to work with allies in the region and elsewhere to support Israel's security.

"And they would be ill-advised to try to use any again". We noted the very clear and forthright words, Mr. Secretary, that you had to say about Iran.

He also said that Amman "had been always part of the American plan" against Syria, claiming that Jordan is not an independent state, but instead carries out the plans imposed on it by the United States.

"I am honored to return to Israel to show my respect for this country", Mattis said from a podium at the Israeli Ministry of Defense.

In a 2013 agreement brokered by Russian Federation and the United States, Syria agreed to destroy its chemical weapons.

On Tuesday, Trump ordered a review of the deal to be led by his National Security Council, although the State Department admits Iran has so far stuck to its side of the bargain.

He said Israel welcomed the "strategic change of American leadership and American policy".

Canada is committed to worldwide efforts to end the Syrian civil war that has killed hundreds of thousands and spawned an global refugee crisis, CTV News reported.

Israel is the third stop on Mattis' Mideast tour, following visits to Saudi Arabia and Egypt, where he held talks with president President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

Mattis said he and Lieberman had just finished their third meeting since January, and their close and regular dialogue is a reflection of the enduring bond between the two countries' militaries. Another US strike against them would inevitably mean hitting Russian personnel, raising the threat of a military confrontation between the world's two major nuclear powers.

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