The Assad regime remains able to conduct chemical attacks, though only at a limited level, the Pentagon said Thursday following last week’s international cruise missile strikes on chemical targets.
Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, director of the US military’s Joint Staff, said that the Assad regime retains a “residual” chemical capability at a variety of sites across the country.
“They will have the ability to conduct limited attacks in the future,” McKenzie told Pentagon reporters, though he said he had no indications a new attack was being planned.
“However, as they contemplate the dynamics of conducting those attacks, they have to look over their shoulder and be worried that we are looking at them, and we will have the ability to strike them again should it be necessary.”
The United States has credible information that Russia and the Assad regime are trying to “sanitize” the site of the chemical weapons attack in Douma while denying access to the area by international inspectors, the State Department said on Thursday.
“We have credible information that indicates that Russian officials are working with the Syrian regime to deny and to delay these inspectors from gaining access to Douma,” US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert Nauert told a news briefing.
President of the Syrian Coalition Abdurrahman Mustafa said that the Assad regime has committed the crime of using chemical weapons dozens of times since the start of the revolution.
“These attacks no longer need to be proved,” Mustafa said in comments he posted on Twitter on Wednesday.”
Chemical weapons inspectors had to delay visiting the site of the chemical weapons attack in Douma after a UN security team reported gunfire at the location a day earlier, sources briefed on the team’s deployment told Reuters on Wednesday. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department + Agencies)