LONDON — Defence Secretary Michael Fallon says that missile strikes by the United States on a Syrian airfield are not part of a new military campaign in the region, and emphasised that Britain does not intend to take part in any further action.
“We don’t see last night’s strike like that,” Fallon said when asked by ITV News if the strikes ordered by US President Trump were part of a new campaign in the region.
“This strike was very limited to one airfield, it was entirely appropriate, it’s designed to deter the regime from carrying out further chemical weapons attacks,” Fallon said in the appearance on ITV.
“So we don’t see it as the start of a different military campaign.”
Fallon made clear that the United Kingdom’s government has given its full support to the USA over the attacks, noting that the use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime in Syria passed a clear red line in international law.
“We’ve not been asked to be involved in this, this was not a matter for the coalition that’s in Syria and Iraq fighting Daesh,” Fallon said. “This was a United States operation, but let me emphasise again we fully support it.”
Fallon added that he had been consulted by US Defence Secretary James Mattis before the strikes were undertaken, telling the BBC: “The American defence secretary Jim Mattis consulted me early yesterday evening about our assessment of the regime’s culpability for the chemical weapons attack and we reviewed the need to understand and to deal with any likely Russian reactions to the attack.”
“He was then reviewing the different options to put before the president, he then called me later on to advise us of the president’s decision and to give us notice of the attack and our prime minister was kept informed throughout,” he added.
Overnight the United States launched a salvo of 59 cruise missiles on Shayrat airfield and nearby military infrastructure controlled by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, in response to a chemical attack that killed at least 80 people in the northwestern part of the country on Monday.
The Tomahawk missiles, launched from the USS Ross and the USS Porter at dawn local time on Friday, represent the first US strikes on the Assad regime, according to a statement from the Pentagon.
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