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Media Availability by Secretary Mattis en route to Belgium

Press Operations

Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis
June 28, 2017
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Q:  Have you seen anything else that's worrying since Monday or Sunday as far as chemical weapons preparations or anything else that's been --

SEC. MATTIS:  It appears that they took the warning seriously. 

Q:  Okay.  And has the Pentagon prepared, you know, targeting or options at this point?

SEC. MATTIS:  I don't talk about possible future operations at all.  I never do.  So don't take that as -- we're doing something, but I just don't talk about future ops as you all know.

Q:  How serious did you see these preparations?  And how -- how strong do you think the --

(CROSSTALK)

SEC. MATTIS:  I think the president speaking about them says how seriously we took them.  He wanted to dissuade them.

Q:  When you say they took the warning seriously, what indications are there about that?  Did they cease the activity?

SEC. MATTIS:  They didn't do it. 

Q:  They just didn't -- (inaudible).

(CROSSTALK)

Q:  (inaudible) -- strike, but you haven't seen -- have you seen other activity or any sort of -- (inaudible)?

SEC. MATTIS:  They didn't do it. 

(CROSSTALK)

Q:  There's no more movement at the air base as far as you can tell?

SEC. MATTIS:  There's always movement at air bases.

Q:  But not the suspicious -- not what you saw -- (inaudible)?

SEC. MATTIS:  They didn't do it.

Q:  But the fact that they didn't do it, does that suggest to you that they completely turned this off?  Or do you think there's a plot -- and idea --

SEC. MATTIS:  I think you better ask Assad about that.  

Q:  But what's your sense of confidence in this?

SEC. MATTIS:  I'm not paid to have confidence in this sort of thing. 

Q:  Have you seen any activity --

SEC. MATTIS:  I'm paid to be one of the sentinels that watches for it.

Q:  Mr. Secretary, have you seen any activity beyond Shayrat?

SEC. MATTIS:  I, you know, beyond Shayrat activity, there's tons of --

Q:  I'm sorry.  Let me be clearer --

SEC. MATTIS:  -- military activity, aircraft activity --

Q:  Chemical weapons.

SEC. MATTIS:  I'm not going say where all we saw it.

Q:  I'm sorry?

SEC. MATTIS:  I'm not going to say where all we saw it.

(CROSSTALK)

SEC. MATTIS:  Like I said yesterday, I'm not going to say where all -- what all the data is.

Q:  Okay.  We did learn that it was Shayrat from the Pentagon.  So, are you suggesting that it could be beyond that, too?

SEC. MATTIS:  Pardon?

Q:  Are you suggesting it could be beyond that, too?

SEC. MATTIS:  I think that Assad's chemical program goes far beyond one airfield.

Q:  Beyond that, have there been any additional worrisome activities in southern Syria where the trainee base is?  Any additional warnings?

SEC. MATTIS:  You'll have to ask Assad.

Q:  Do you have an on-the-record assessment of how much chemical weapons he may have now?

SEC. MATTIS:  An off-the-record assessment?

Q:  No, on-the-record assessment.

SEC. MATTIS:  No.

Q:  Thank you.