The US administration will not publish any evidence to support its claim of chemical attack preparations allegedly being carried out by the Syrian government, a US Department of State spokesperson has said.
At a media briefing on Tuesday, Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert was asked to comment on the lack of any evidence in the report, made by White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer on Monday.
She said no proof would ever be laid out, “because that would be considered an intelligence matter.”
“So as you all are aware, there are a lot of these things that will pop up sometimes that we just can’t get into the details about this, but this has obviously gotten the attention of the United States Government at the highest level,” the spokesperson added.
When asked whether the US intelligence could mistakenly take other Syrian government’s actions for chemical attack preparations, she said it was “a hypothetical question.” “We know from past experience that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons on its own people, so that obviously remains a very large concern for us in the future,” Nauert added.
She did not say whether Washington planned any contacts with Moscow on the issue.
“I don’t have any additional calls or any information to read out. This is something that the United States Government remains very concerned about. I’m just not aware of any subsequent conversations that are scheduled just yet,” she said when asked by a TASS correspondent on whether US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was planning to hold more consultations with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on the Syrian issue.
According to the Russian Foreign Ministry’s statement released on Monday, the Russian and US top diplomats have “discussed problems related to the settlement of the Syrian crisis, including the necessity to strengthen the ceasefire, in particular via the Astana process, to step up efforts in the fight against terrorist groups and preventing attempts to use chemical poisonous agents.”
Nauert gave no details about the conversation.
“As you know, they talk about things regularly. They began their dialogue in Moscow (during Tillerson’s visit this spring),” she said. “They met here about a month ago or so (during Lavrov’s visit to Washington in May). And then, of course, they’ve had subsequent phone conversations, such as the one last evening. Secretary Tillerson is not putting out a full play-by-play of that conversation.”
“The Secretary has made his concerns clear in the past and continues to do so with regard to Russia,” the spokesperson added.