Mattis: US arms for Syrian Kurds will continue after Raqqa

Mattis: US arms for Syrian Kurds will continue after Raqqa

But Syria has been in a civil war since 2011, and many of those US -backed forces are also considered a threat by the Assad government. On April 4, a chemical weapons attack was launched from the Shayrat base against Syrian civilians.

USA forces would not fire on targets "unless they are the enemy, unless they are ISIS", he said late on Monday.

The White House also issued a warning to Syrian President Bashar Assad late Monday that claimed the US had "potential" evidence that Syria was preparing for another chemical weapons attack.

"Our goal is always for zero civilian casualties", the statement said.

April's attack on the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhun was reported to have killed at least 87 people, including many children, and images of the dead and of suffering victims provoked global outrage. Pro-Assad forces backed by Russian Federation and Iran also have a presence in the area, close to where Syria's borders converge with those of Jordan and Iraq. "The closer we get, the more complex it gets".

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says at least 42 people were killed, identifying them as prisoners of Islamic State.

The UK's defence secretary, Michael Fallon, said the United States had not shared any evidence of a specific threat of a chemical weapons attack.

Bottas fastest ahead of Raikkonen in final practice in Baku
Bottas led qualifying and set an even quicker time on his final lap, only for Hamilton to beat him by almost half a second. Valtteri was on a great lap as well, so when I came across the line and saw that I had pole, it was such a good feeling.

In addition to the White House threat, a spate of incidents in recent weeks - including the downing of a Syrian government jet and two Iranian-made drones by US aircraft - appear to suggest the opposite of Mattis's claims.

Following the shooting down of the Syrian jet, Russian Federation said it would treat US aircraft west of the Euphrates as "targets", but since the threats USA aircraft have continued to operate on both sides of the river without apparent incident. ISIS' meteoric rise, however, was primarily an outcome of two failed states in the heart of the Middle East-Iraq and Syria-and the marginalization of Sunni communities in Iraq's al-Anbar province and Syria's rural areas.

Mattis said the US gave the fighters weapons they needed for the urban fighting they are facing in Raqqa.

Ankara, however, fears that weapons given to the Kurdish fighters will end up in the hands of insurgents in Turkey, known as the PKK.

Washington is backing a Kurdish-Arab alliance besieging Raqqa from the southeast and west.

In a news bulletin flashed on screen, it said the building had been used as a prison for a "large number of civilians".

The U.S., however, sees the YPG as an essential ally in the campaign to defeat Islamic State in Raqqa, the jihadists' main urban base in Syria.

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