U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis confirmed that the U.S. government has no evidence that the Syrian government used sarin gas on its people— a claim that was used by the White House as justification for an April 2017 launch of 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at the Al Shayrat airfield in Syria.
On Friday, Mattis said that reports of chemical weapon use by the Syrian government have come from aid groups and others, but that the U.S. doesn’t have any evidence to support these assertions.
“We have other reports from the battlefield from people who claim it’s been used,” Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon. “We do not have evidence of it.”
“We’re looking for evidence of it, since clearly we are dealing with the Assad regime that has used denial and deceit to hide their outlaw actions,” Mattis continued. “We’re even more concerned about the possibility of sarin use.”
Mattis explained that he was not refuting the third-party reports of chemical weapons used by the Syrian government led by President Bashar Assad. Assad has steadfastly denied that his government has used chemical weapons throughout the conflict.