Mattis Warns Syria To not Use Chemical Weapons

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The Syrian Foreign Ministry has responded to the United States' claims of chemical weapons use by the government forces in the clashes with militants in Eatern Ghouta.

"You all have seen how we reacted to that, so the Syrian government would be ill-advised to go back to violating the chemical convention", Mattis said.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis issued a stern warning on Friday to Syria, urging the regime to abstain from using chemical weapons.

"We're looking for evidence of it since clearly we are dealing with the [Bashar al-] Assad regime that has used denial and deceit to hide their outlawed actions", Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon.

The US accusations of chemical weapons use in Eastern Ghouta are groundless, the Syrian Foreign Ministry said adding that Damascus strongly condemned such statements.

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It had 184 million daily users in this region in the quarter, down from 185 million in the prior quarter. Total costs and expenses of $5.6 billion was an increase of 32% from the year-ago period.

The Syrian government reaffirms its position against the use of chemical weapons, and Syria has handed over all its chemical arsenals to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the ministry said. Unlike sarin, chlorine gas is relatively easy to produce and is not banned by the Chemical Weapons Convention.

The ministry said in a statement that the USA remarks about the use of chemical weapons in the Eastern Ghouta region of the east of the capital Damascus are "false claims".

A deadly sarin attack on another rebel-held area in April 2017 prompted President Donald Trump to order a U.S. missile strike on the Shayrat airbase, from which the Syrian operation is said to have been launched.

However, another official said that the Trump administration hopes that stepped-up worldwide sanctions and diplomatic pressure against Damascus will help rein in Syria's chemical weapons program. He said that non-governmental organizations and fighters on the ground in Syria had reported sarin use, and that the US was looking into the matter.