Damascus responsible for chemical attack, Mattis claims

US Defense Secretary James Mattis speaks at a press conference at the Pentagon on April 11, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by AFP)

US Defense Secretary James Mattis has reiterated unfounded allegations against the Syrian government over use of chemical weapons, saying there is “no doubt” that Damascus was responsible for a recent gas attack.

"Last Tuesday, on the 4th of April, the Syrian regime attacked its own people using chemical weapons," claimed the US military chief during a Pentagon briefing on Tuesday. "I have personally reviewed the intelligence and there is no doubt the Syrian regime is responsible for the decision to attack and for the attack itself."

Mattis made the remarks after Washington repeatedly held Damascus responsible for a last week’s chemical attack on the town of Khan Shaykhun in Syria’s Idlib Province, which claimed over 80 lives.

Syria has categorically denied the accusation and stressed that its Idlib airstrike had targeted a depot, where terrorists stored chemical weapons.

In retaliation for the suspected gas attack, US President Donald Trump ordered two US Navy destroyers to fire 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles from the Mediterranean Sea at Syria’s al-Shayrat airfield early on Friday, claiming that the airfield had been used to store chemical weapons and Syrian aircraft.

During the Tuesday briefing, the Pentagon chief also stressed that Washington's military strategy in Syria has not changed even after its retaliatory missile strikes on a Syrian airbase, claiming that, "our priority remains the defeat" of the Daesh (ISIL) terrorist group.

In September 2014, the US and some of its allies started conducting airstrikes inside Syria allegedly against Daesh terrorists. 

Syria gas attack as “false flag” to set Assad up

In response to the recent remarks by the US officials concerning the suspected gas attack, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the incident in Idlib had been used by the US administration as a “false flag” to discredit the government in Damascus.

“We have reports from multiple sources that false flags like this one – and I cannot call it otherwise – are being prepared in other parts of Syria, including the southern suburbs of Damascus,” said Putin, adding that, “They plan to plant some chemical there and accuse the Syrian government of an attack.”

The Russian president also emphasized that the United Nations needs to launch an official investigation into the last week’s chemical attack in Syria.

“We are planning to address the corresponding UN structure in The Hague and call on the international community to thoroughly investigate all those reports and take appropriate action based on the results of such a probe,” he said.

Earlier, Russia had fiercely condemned the attack as an act of “aggression” from the US.

Syrians bury the bodies of victims of a suspected toxic gas attack in Khan Shaykhun, a town in Syria’s northwestern province of Idlib, April 5, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Since March 2011, the United States and its regional allies, in particular Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, have been conducting a proxy war against the Syrian people and government.

The years-long conflict has left more than 470,000 Syrians dead and half of the country’s population of about 23 million displaced within or beyond the Arab country’s borders.

In recent months, the Syrian army, backed by the Russian air power, has been making major gains against Takfiri terrorist groups, recapturing several strategic areas from their grip, particularly in the strategic northern province of Aleppo.

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