WASHINGTON (CBSDFW.COM/AP) — A senior U.S. official says the United States has concluded that Russia knew in advance of Syria’s chemical weapons attack last week.
The official says a Russian-operated drone flew over a hospital in Syria as victims of the attack were rushing to receive treatment.
Hours after the drone left, a Russian-made fighter jet bombed the hospital in what American officials believe was an attempt to cover up the usage of chemical weapons.
Until Monday, U.S. officials had said they weren’t sure if the drone was operated by Russia or Syria. The senior official said it still wasn’t clear who was flying the jet that bombed the hospital.
The official said the presence of the drone couldn’t have been a coincidence, and that Russia must have known the chemical weapons attack was coming and that victims were seeking treatment.
The official wasn’t authorized to speak publicly on intelligence matters and demanded anonymity.
However, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis released the following statement about the U.S. military response to the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons.
The U.S. military strike against Shayrat airfield on April 6 was a measured response to the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons.
The president directed this action to deter future use of chemical weapons and to show the United States will not passively stand by while Assad murders innocent people with chemical weapons, which are prohibited by international law and which were declared destroyed.
The assessment of the Department of Defense is that the strike resulted in the damage or destruction of fuel and ammunition sites, air defense capabilities, and 20 percent of Syria’s operational aircraft. The Syrian government has lost the ability to refuel or rearm aircraft at Shayrat airfield and at this point, use of the runway is of idle military interest.
The Syrian government would be ill-advised ever again to use chemical weapons.