SecDef Says Syria Has Chemical Weapons; Second Guessing U.S. Generals; Militaries Scramble to Meet North Korea Threat


With Adam Rawnsley

There it is. Speaking in Israel on Friday, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis confirmed recent press reporting that Syria still possesses chemical weapons, and has been moving its military planes around the country in the wake of the American cruise missile attack on an air base earlier this month.

“I can say authoritatively they have retained some, it’s a violation of the United Nations Security Council resolutions and it’s going to have to be taken up diplomatically and they would be ill advised to try to use any again, we made that very clear with our strike,” Mattis said during a press conference with  Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman. Earlier this week, Israeli officials said that Syria retained round three tons of chemical weapons materials.

We on an award tour. On the day Mattis landed in Tel Aviv, Lebanese Hezbollah representatives took reporters on a tour of the southern Lebanese border to point out the defensive measures Israel is taking to shore up the frontier between the two countries.

Tensions have increased between the two sides in recent weeks, leading to fears that the fragile peace that has held since 2006 could be broken. Israeli officials say Hezbollah has more than restocked its supply of weapons since the war, and leaders of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, which supplies Hezbollah, have bragged the group has around 100,000 rockets and missiles at its disposal. “For the first time in the history of this enemy, its doctrine has switched from an offensive to a defensive one,” a Hezbollah military commander said. The tour was coordinated with the Lebanese army.

Iran plan. Mattis also confirmed that Iran was keeping up its end of the bargain when it comes to the 2015 deal struck with Washington and other Western allies to curb its nuclear weapons program. “As our secretary of state said about three days ago, Iran appears to the degree we can determine it — we are pretty confident — they appear to be living up to their part of the agreement,” he told reporters. Just hours earlier, President Donald Trump was decidedly more vague when describing Iranian compliance, warning that Iran is not “living up to the spirit of the agreement.” The State Department certified to Congress earlier this week that Iran is honoring the accord, but Trump administration officials have said they’re reviewing the deal.

North Korea watch. Both South Korea and China appear to have placed their armed forces on high alert in recent days U.S. officials have told multiple news outlets, ahead of another North Korean military parade and an expected nuclear test. Officials have said they have noticed Chinese bombers and military aircraft being prepared to launch quickly.

President Trump swiped at the crisis during a press conference on Thursday, saying “some very unusual moves have been made over the last two or three hours” in North Korea — he didn’t elaborate — but that he was confident Chinese…

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