National Security

Mattis on Syria Strikes: ‘Clearly the Assad Regime Did Not Get the Message Last Year’

Defense Secretary James Mattis spoke with reporters Friday night following President Donald Trump's announcement of coordinated air strikes against Syria's chemical weapons capabilities, saying the Bashar al-Assad regime "did not get the message last year."

Mattis called Assad's reported chemical attack against the Damascus suburb of Douma last week an inexcusable atrocity. Speaking at the Pentagon, Mattis recalled Trump's ordered retaliatory strike after an Assad-engineered chemical attack last April.

"Tonight France, the United Kingdom and the United States took decisive action to strike the Syrian chemical weapons infrastructure," he said. "Clearly the Assad regime did not get the message last year. This time our allies and we have struck harder. Together we have sent a clear message to Assad and his murderous lieutenants that they should not perpetrate another chemical weapons attack for which they will be held accountable."

Mattis said the strike on Friday night demonstrates an "international resolve" to prevent the usage of chemical weapons. He said he wanted to emphasize the strike was against the Syrian regime and great lengths were taken to avoid civilian casualties.