Defense Secretary Jim Mattis Press Conference On Syria, North Korea, Russia


Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis and Army Gen. Joseph Votel, the chief of Central Command, gave a press conference Tuesday afternoon about the U.S. missile strike last week in Syria and the situation around the world.

Mattis said there was "no doubt" that Syria was responsible for last week's chemical weapons strike which triggered an attack from Trump.

On Monday, Mattis issued a statement saying the missile attack destroyed 20% of Syria’s air force and made the Shayrat air base unusable. He also said Syria would be "ill-advised" to use chemical weapons again.

Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I previously released a statement on the U.S. military's response to the Syrian regime's use of chemical weapons. I thought this was an appropriate time now for General Votel and me to update you on the military action itself.

Last Tuesday on the 4th of April, the Syrian regime attacked its own people using chemical weapons. 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.

In response to the attack, our government began a deliberate process, led by the National Security Council, to recommend diplomatic and military options to the president. We met over several days and I spoke with some of our allies.

The National Security Council considered the near-century-old international prohibition against the use of chemical weapons, the Syrian regime's repeated violations of that international law, and the inexplicably ruthless murders the regime had committed.

We determined that a measured military response could best deter the regime from doing this again. As always, we examined how best to avoid civilian casualties in the execution of the strike, and our actions were successful. Based on these considerations, on 6 April, the president directed military action consistent with our vital national interests to deter the use of chemical weapons.

This military action demonstrates the United States will not passively stand by while Assad blithely ignores international law and employs chemical weapons he had declared destroyed.

We were aware of the presence of Russians at the airfield and took appropriate actions to ensure no Russians were injured in the attack.

Our military policy in Syria has not changed. Our priority remains the defeat of ISIS. ISIS represents a clear and present danger, an immediate threat to Europe and ultimately, a threat to the United States homeland.

In closing, the Syrian regime should think long and hard before it again acts so recklessly in violation of international law against the use of chemical weapons.

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