U.S. Secretary for Defense Jim Mattis (C) prepares to shake hands with an Omani military official as he is greeted by US Ambassador to Oman March Sievers (2nd-L) upon his arrival in the capital Muscat on March 11, 2018. AFP / Thomas WATKINS
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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.While in Oman, Mattis planned to meet Monday with the country's supreme ruler, Sultan Qaboos bin Said.After the 2011 Arab Spring, Qaboos is now the longest-serving Arab leader in the Middle East.Anthony Cordesman, a Middle East expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said Saturday that Oman's role in the Gulf is important to the U.S. at a time of sharp divisions among the Gulf Arab states, civil wars in Yemen and Syria and growing Iranian influence in Iraq.
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