Mattis says Syria dispersed warplanes, retains chemical weapons

U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis meets Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, not seen, at the presidential residence in Jerusalem, on Friday. (AP)
Updated 22 April 2017
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Mattis says Syria dispersed warplanes, retains chemical weapons

TEL AVIV: US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Friday that Syria had dispersed its warplanes in recent days and that it retained chemical weapons, an issue he said would have to be taken up diplomatically.

The US launched dozens of missiles earlier this month against a Syrian air base in response to a chemical attack. It said the Syrian regime launched the attack from the Shayrat air base.

The Pentagon has said that the strike had damaged or destroyed about 20 percent of the Syrian military’s operational aircraft.

During a press conference alongside his Israeli counterpart, Mattis was asked whether the Syrian military had moved warplanes to a Russian base in Latakia.

“They have dispersed their aircraft, no doubt. They have dispersed their aircraft in recent days,” Mattis said.

Mattis also reiterated that the US believed Syria had retained some chemical weapons.

“The bottom line is, I can say authoritatively they have retained some (chemical weapons). It’s a violation of the UN Security Council resolutions, and it’s going to have to be taken up diplomatically, and they’d be ill-advised to try to use any again. We’ve made that very clear with our strike,” Mattis said.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, a global watchdog, said sarin or a similar banned toxin was used in the April 4 strike in Idlib, Syria.


Libya loses 400,000 barrels of storage capacity due to militant attacks

Updated 19 June 2018
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Libya loses 400,000 barrels of storage capacity due to militant attacks

LONDON: Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) said that at least 400,000 barrels of storage capacity has been lost within the past few days due to militant attacks on Ras Lanuf and Al-Sidra.
The NOC announced Monday that it has suffered “catastrophic losses” when two storage tanks were destroyed during fierce clashes in its oil crescent, northeast of the country.
Armed groups on Thursday attacked the Ras Lanuf and Al-Sidra terminals held by Haftar’s forces around 650 kilometers (400 miles) east of Tripoli.
Haftar led a “major offensive” on Sunday following the attacks to drive rival groups from the country’s northeastern oil crescent.
NOC chief Mustafa Sonallah warned in statements carried by Reuters that if oil exports from these terminals remain at a standstill it could cause a “national disaster.”
The oil firm warned on Friday that output could fall by up to 400,000 barrels per day if the export shutdown continues.