Background Press Briefing on Syria, 4/11/2017 SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: This briefing today is about a declassified -- or it's a summary based on declassified information about the attacks on the 4th of April.
BigNews.Biz - Apr 12,2017 - Background Press Briefing on Syria, 4/11/2017
James S. Brady Briefing Room
12:10 P.M. EDT
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: This briefing today is about a declassified -- or it's a summary based on declassified information about the attacks on the 4th of April. So this is on background only. Attribution is senior White House official, and it will be embargoed until the end of the brief. And I'll have each of my colleagues come up here and introduce themselves.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: My understanding is you'd just like to ask some questions. So I'm happy to go through some details of the narrative, or just take questions incoming, if you have them.
Q Do you mind walking through some of the narrative related to the chemical weapons attack -- what Russia knew perhaps beforehand, or during, or after, and some of the reporting that has come out about a Russian drone, et cetera?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: So let me start with the narrative of what we think happened in the attack. And let me tell you, to start with -- what we've done here is we've declassified a lot of intelligence with great thanks to our colleagues in the intelligence community so that we can be very forthcoming with you about the amount that we know about this attack and why we believe the Russian and Syrian narratives are false. And we think it's really important for you to understand the depth of information that we have that supports this narrative.
I would say that since we started coming forward, in the immediate wake of the attack, all of the way through to today, we continued to get additional information. And the information we get about this attack continues to be clear and consistent with our understanding of the attack, starting on the day of the attack, April 4th, and working all the way through today.
And I would say we, even as recently as last night, for today, declassified additional information that, again, lends additional weight and credibility to the narrative I want to share with you today.
The information we have downgraded and declassified includes a wide body of open-source material, both social media accounts. It include open-source videos, reporting, open-source imagery, et cetera, as well as our own geospatial intelligence, our signals intelligence, and it include physiological samples of victims of the attack. And again, all of that tells a very clear and consistent story about what we think happened.
So to be clear, based on the pro-opposition social media reporting, those reports indicate that the chemical attack began in Khan Sheikhun at about 6:55 local time on April 4th. Our information makes quite clear that the attack came from SU-22 fixed-wing aircraft out of the Shayrat airfield, which is regime-controlled. These aircraft were in the vicinity of Khan Sheikhun for about 20 minutes before reports of the chemical attack came out, and they vacated the area shortly after the attack. And I think some of