JERUSALEM (AA) – U.S. Defense Secretary General James Mattis, at a Friday joint press conference with Israeli counterpart Avigdor Lieberman, said Syria’s Assad regime still had a chemical-weapons stockpile.

“There is no doubt that Syria has retained chemical weapons in violation of the UN Security Council resolution,” Mattis asserted, referring to UNSC Resolution 2118 (2013), which called on the Assad regime to give up its stocks of chemical arms.

Answering questions as whether the Syrian regime had recently moved aircraft to a Russian military base in Syria’s northeastern Latakia province, Mattis said: “No doubt they dispersed their aircraft in recent days.”

Lieberman, for his part, declined to comment on unconfirmed news reports that the Syrian regime continues to hold between one ton and three tons of chemical weapons.

Later Friday, Mattis is expected to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israel Army Chief-of-Staff Gadi Eizenkot.

Mattis arrived in Israel on Thursday for a two-day visit. The visit comes as part of a wider regional tour that brought him to Egypt and Saudi Arabia earlier this week.

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