In this Wednesday, March 7, 2018 file photo, U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis speaks during a meeting with Estonian Defense Minister Juri Luik at the Pentagon in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)
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U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis Sunday warned the Syrian government not to use chemical weapons in its civil war and said the Trump administration has made it clear that it would be "very unwise" to use gas in attacks.The U.S. responded militarily last year to reported Syrian government use of sarin gas, and Mattis was asked whether the administration is now considering retaliating for chlorine gas use.Mattis said Russia, which intervened militarily in Syria to support the Assad government, could be complicit in the civilian casualties.On Sunday, the Russian military said 52 civilians have evacuated from besieged eastern Ghouta suburbs of Syria's capital, Damascus.The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group says an indiscriminate campaign of government and Russian air strikes and shelling has killed some 1,100 civilians in rebel-held eastern Ghouta over the past three weeks.Syria's deputy foreign minister Faisal Mekdad denied opposition charges that government forces used poisonous gas in their attacks on some suburbs of Damascus.While in Oman, Mattis planned to meet with the country's supreme ruler, Sultan Qaboos bin Said, on Monday.
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