Pentagon Suspects Chemical Weapons Still at Syrian Air Base


The Pentagon believes the Syrian regime likely has additional chemical weapons stocks at the airfield struck by U.S. missiles last week, but these were deliberately left untouched, an official said Monday.

U.S. intelligence experts assess Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's military is probably hoarding the weapons in munitions depots at Shayrat airfield near Homs in central Syria, the U.S. military's Central Command spokesman Colonel John Thomas said.

President Donald Trump ordered a massive military strike on the air base last week, in retaliation for a "barbaric" chemical attack he blamed on Assad.

"We suspected there was a significant probability there could be other chemical weapons which would be ready to go, weaponized in those facilities, and so we didn't strike those," Thomas told reporters. 

The chemical stocks were left untouched because the Pentagon did not want to risk unintentionally sending a plume of toxic gas across parts of Syria.

Though the United States is confident Assad is stockpiling chemical weapons, intelligence analysts are not certain what these are.

Under a 2013 Moscow-brokered deal, Assad was supposed to have dismantled Syria's chemical weapons arsenal and ship it to Russia.

The Pentagon has said it is sure Assad unleashed a chemical attack on April 4 that killed at least 87 civilians in the rebel-held Syrian town of Khan Sheikhun.

"Our advice was to make sure we didn't inflict any greater damage by touching any of the chemical weapons in the area," Thomas added.

"We were trying to degrade their capability to launch aircraft and to load them up with chemical weapons."

The Pentagon says the strike destroyed more than 20 Syrian jets but the military has come under criticism for not targeting Shayrat's runways, amid reports regime planes were again using the base hours after the attack by 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles.

Thomas said the runways were deliberately avoided because the United States was trying to draw a clear line that its military action was in response to the suspected chemical attack, and not signal a willingness to get more involved in Syria's brutal civil war.

U.S. forces gave Moscow a heads up shortly before Friday's strike, as Russian personnel and equipment were based at Shayrat under Russia's ongoing military intervention to prop up Assad.

Moscow reacted furiously to the U.S. strike and immediately threatened to suspend a vital hotline established to avoid mishaps between the two powers in Syria.

Thomas refused to confirm whether the so-called "deconfliction line" remains operational, but said that even without it, "there are still ways for the pilots to hail each other."

While U.S. and Russian pilots can use radar to see each other, the lack of a direct line of communication would further heighten the risks of misunderstandings or accidents in Syria's already crowded skies.

Comments 8
Thumb gigahabib 11 April 2017, 03:20

So much baseless speculation. Fake news?

Thumb warrior 11 April 2017, 03:23

are you still embedded with the iranian revolutionary guards in Syria? Do you ever sleep ya heretic or you live in the USA and enjoy its freedom and are paid to post propaganda on this forum?

Thumb ashtah 11 April 2017, 07:33

the only news the troll above trusts is SANA, IRNA and Al Manar.

Thumb _mowaten_ 11 April 2017, 12:58

LOOOOOL because you think there's anyone left on earth who believes the pentagon? Besides you of course, I bet you are still waiting for them to find saddam's WMDs

Missing CFTC 11 April 2017, 13:50

Strikingly Original
Bold, and Hilarious
Always going where no one else dares

What can one say, another E-X-C-E-L-L-E-N-T comment. I particularly enjoyed the part where you said " I bet you are still waiting for them to find saddam's WMDs "

Thank you for making this forum lovely, lively and vibrant.
Still laughing since January 2015 when you said the $3 billion Saudi grant was only to teach our soldiers the French language.

Thank you
Yours Sincerely

Thumb barrymore 11 April 2017, 14:23

and who fabricated Saddam's Weapons of Mass Destruction lie other than you heretics including iran, ahmad jalabi and nawreh al malki?

Thumb _mowaten_ 11 April 2017, 17:04

hahahahaha incredible. who could have thought so much bad faith could be possible. even for you paid trolls this is pushing it.

Thumb EagleDawn 11 April 2017, 07:57

how do you argue with 'brains' eaten away by the cancer of wilayat al faqih.
you dont.