Mattis says Islamic State still focus in Syria

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on U.S. response to recent chemical weapons attack in Syria (all times local):

3:55 p.m.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis says the campaign against the Islamic State group is still the main focus of the U.S. in Syria and remains on track.

He says the bombing of the Syrian air field Thursday in retaliation for the government’s use of chemical weapons against innocent civilians was a separate issue in the military campaign.

Mattis says he reviewed intelligence about the April 5 chemical weapons attack and says he has no doubt the Syrian regime was responsible for the bombing’s planning and execution.

He says the Syrian regime should “think long and hard” before making such a reckless attack again. He says the U.S. can’t get involved in Syria’s civil war, but couldn’t allow the use of chemical weapons.

More than 80 civilians were killed in the attack.


3:45 p.m.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis says U.S.-Russian tensions over Syria “will not spiral out of control.”

Mattis says the U.S. and Russia are maintaining military and diplomatic communications.

He noted that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was in Moscow Tuesday.

Mattis says Russia acts in its interests.

And he says there is no Russian interest in allowing the current disagreements over Syria to lead to a broader confrontation.


3:40 p.m.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis says only Syrian President Bashar Assad knows why he used chemical weapons.

Mattis says he trusts Assad regrets last week’s chemical weapons attack, given the U.S. retaliatory strikes.

The Pentagon says the cruise missiles it launched at Syrian air base destroyed a fifth of Assad’s functioning, fixed-wing combat aircraft.

Mattis criticized Assad for using chemical weapons several times over the last several years.


2:20 p.m.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer says that President Donald Trump’s oldest daughter weighed in on his response to the Syrian chemical weapons attack.

Spicer says at his daily press briefing that “there is no…

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