USA investigating possible sarin gas attacks in Syria: Defense Secretary Jim Mattis

Mattis says it is clear that Assad's government has weaponized and used chlorine gas in the Syrian civil war.

"We're looking for evidence of it since clearly we are dealing with the [Bashar al-] Assad regime that has used denial and deceit to hide their outlawed actions", Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon.

He said that non-governmental organizations and fighters on the ground in Syria had reported sarin use, and that the US was looking into the matter.

Mattis did not provide further details on which reports on the use of sarin he was referring to. Administration officials said Trump has not ruled out additional military action to deter chemical attacks or to punish Assad, though they did not suggest any action was imminent.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said, "Those who carry out chemical weapons attacks need to be made aware that we know who they are, and we will go after them".

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Rescue workers and medical groups working in the rebel-held enclave of Eastern Ghouta, near Damascus, have accused government forces of using chlorine gas three times over the last month, including early on Thursday.

Amidst conflicting reports about presence of chemical weapons with Syrian government, senior United States officials have claimed President Donald Trump is prepared to launch military action, if necessary, against Damascus, which they claim is possibly developing new types of chemical weapons.

"Russia's failure to resolve the chemical weapons issue in Syria calls into question its relevance to the resolution of the overall crisis".

In a statement to the Syrian state-run news agency SANA, the Syrian foreign ministry denied that it had used chemical weapons on its own people, and insisted that it had turned its chemical weapons stockpile over to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

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