US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told Congress on Thursday that the US military does not have evidence that either chlorine or sarin were used in an alleged chemical attack in the Syrian town of Douma, adding that the Pentagon’s only proof that such an incident occurred has come from social media and media reports.
“There have been a number of these attacks. In many cases, you know we don’t have troops, we’re not engaged on the ground there, so I cannot tell you that we had evidence, even though we had a lot of media and social media indicators that either chlorine or sarin were used,” Mattis said, speaking to members of the House Armed Services Committee.
The defense secretary said that he believed that a chemical attack took place, “and we are looking for the actual evidence.”
Warning that he was concerned that a US military strike might lead to an “out of control” escalation in the Syrian war, Mattis said that Washington was “committed to ending that war through the Geneva process through the UN orchestrated effort.”
Mattis promised that the Pentagon would report to Congress if it decided to take action on Syria.
The defense secretary also accused Moscow of complicity in Syria’s alleged retention of a chemical weapons stockpile.