US warns Assad: Get ready for strikes if you don’t learn

Syrian regime would be ‘ill-advised’ to ignore message sent by last week’s allied missile strike, says US Defense Secretary
WASHINGTON: Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Friday the U.S. is ready to carry out additional military action against Syria if Bashar al-Assad fails to heed the message of last week’s allied cruise missile strike.
“He would be ill-advised to ignore the international community’s statement, and we stand ready to address anything in the future,” Mattis told reporters, adding he has seen universal support for what he called the “regrettable but necessary attack” on Assad’s suspected chemical weapons sites.
Mattis’ latest remarks came during a meeting with his Japanese counterpart Itsunori Onodera at the Pentagon.
Forces of the Assad regime struck targets in Douma district in the suburb of Eastern Ghouta earlier this month using a toxic gas which left at least 78 civilians dead, according to the Syrian Civil Defense, also known as the White Helmets.
Following the attack, the U.S., UK and France jointly launched retaliatory strikes last Friday targeting the Assad regime’s chemical weapons capabilities.
The strikes targeted a chemical weapons research center near Damascus, a chemical weapons warehouse and a command center related to chemical weapons located west of Homs, said U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Joseph Dunford.
The Damascus suburb of Eastern Ghouta has been under siege for the last five years. Humanitarian access to the area, which is home to 400,000 people, has been completely cut off.
Assad regime forces have intensified their siege, making it nearly impossible for food or medicine to get into the district and leaving thousands of civilians in need.
Defense Minister Onodera also noted that the joint strike showed the resolve of the international community in dealing with weapons of mass destruction.
“I think this gave a certain message towards North Korea as well,” he added, noting that Washington and Tokyo must work “synergistically” along with the international community to make North Korea abandon all weapons of mass destruction and its ballistic missile program in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner.
“Together, we are carefully reviewing a possible new path to peace, and at the same time, we remain vigilant,” he said, referring to North Korea.
U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un are expected to hold talks about Pyongyang’s nuclear program in late May or early June. The location of the planned summit has not yet been disclosed.–AA

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