(AP) – Defense Secretary James Mattis says the U.S. and its allies have taken “decisive action” against Syrian chemical weapons infrastructure.
Mattis spoke Friday night after President Donald Trump announced that the U.S., France and Britain launched military strikes on Syria to punish President Bashar Assad for his alleged use of chemical weapons against civilians and to deter him from doing it again.
Mattis says the United States, along with France and the United Kingdom, struck because Syrian President Bashar Assad “did not get the message” when the U.S. launched airstrikes after a chemical attack in 2017.
The defense secretary says Friday’s strikes have “sent a clear message” to Assad and his “murderous lieutenants.”
Mattis says military strikes in Syria are “directed at the Syrian regime” and they have “gone to great lengths to avoid civilians and foreign casualties.”
Mattis is asking that “responsible nations” join in condemning the Assad regime.
Mattis said the U.S. has no reports of suffering any losses during the initial airstrikes on Syria Friday.
Mattis says “right now this is a one-time shot” but is not ruling out further attacks. President Donald Trump had said earlier that the campaign against the regime of Bashar Assad could be “sustained.”
The defense secretary says the airstrikes were launched against several sites that he says helped provide Assad’s ability to create chemical weapons. Mattis says the Syrian government used chemical weapons on its own people last week.
Mattis says the Pentagon will provide more information on the attack Saturday.
Jim Mattis says he is “absolutely confident” that Syrian President Bashar Assad is behind the alleged chemical attack on his people that the U.S. and allies retaliated against Friday night.
Mattis tells reporters he is certain Assad conducted a chemical attack on innocent people.
He says the U.S. is “very much aware of one of the chemical agents used.” And he says there may have been a second.
The British defense ministry says “initial indications” show that the airstrikes against Syria produced a “successful attack” on a Syrian military facility.
The U.K., U.S. and France launched the attacks near Damascus early Saturday. The U.K. ministry says in a statement that while the effectiveness of the strike is still being analyzed, “initial indications are that the precision of the Storm Shadow weapons and meticulous target planning have resulted in a successful attack.”
British Prime Minister Theresa May is describing the attack as neither “about intervening in a civil war” nor “about regime change,” but a limited and targeted strike that “does not further escalate tensions in the region” and does everything possible to prevent civilian casualties.
May says, “We would have preferred an alternative path. But on this occasion there is none.”
The United States Assessment of the Assad Regime’s use of chemical weapons can be found HERE.