28 June, 2017
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Syria appeared to have responded to Washington's warning of any new chemical weapons attack, US Defense Secretary James Matisse said on Wednesday.
"They seem to have taken the warning seriously ... they have not done it," Matisse told reporters traveling with him to Brussels for a meeting of NATO defense ministers on June 28, 2017.
"I think you should ask Syrian President Bashar al-Assad this question," he said when asked if he thought the Syrian forces had completely canceled the attack.
US officials said on Tuesday that the White House had issued a warning on Monday to the Syrian leadership, based on intelligence, about what appeared to be active preparations at a Syrian airbase that used chemical weapons in the past on civilians in April.
US Defense Secretary James Matisse said Wednesday that his country's forces in some Syrian areas would not fire at anyone except in self-defense, pointing out that Washington is coordinating with Moscow on getting closer to the Syrian government forces and Iranian elements with whom it is present. , Adding that "in the context of military operations in Syria must focus on areas of enemy presence."
"The American side is making efforts to coordinate with the Russians in cases of approaching other forces, such as government forces or Russian forces, as the Americans realize that Iranian elements or members of Hezbollah may be next to those forces," Matisse said in a statement earlier today. "He said.
"We refuse to be dragged into a battle there in the midst of the Syrian civil war, and we are trying to put an end to this through diplomatic efforts," he said, ruling out a military escalation between his forces and Iranian-backed forces in Syria.