Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) said Friday that the Pentagon had so far found no evidence that Russia was involved in the suspected poison gas attack in Syria Tuesday that resulted in the deaths of dozens of civilians.
Ernst, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, began an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper by confirming that she had just come out of a briefing on President Donald Trump’s order of a missile strike against a Syrian airfield with the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff. She confirmed that the Pentagon was investigating potential Russian involvement with the poison gas attack, but said that the agency had so far found no evidence to suggest that that was the case.
The Associated Press first reported the investigation on Friday, citing unnamed senior military officials.
“Did Gen. Dunford have anything to say about the possibility, and we’re being told that the Pentagon is looking into the possibility, that Russian forces were actually involved in the chemical weapon attack against Syria, Syrian individuals earlier this week?” CNN’s Jake Tapper asked the senator.
“That investigation will continue,” Ernst responded. “However, at this time they don’t have any concrete evidence that shows that Russia was involved. They have been complacent I think in a number of operations that have gone on in Syria, but there is no evidence to say that they worked with Syria on this specific attack.”
The Syrian government has denied using chemical weapons. And Russia, which has been flying air missions in support of Syrian President Bashar Assad, has blamed Tuesday’s poison gas deaths on a “terrorist warehouse” full of “toxic substances,” which it said was hit by a Syrian airstrike, according a statement from the Russian Defense Ministry reported by the Guardian.