April 7, 2017 / 7:18 AM / 6 months ago

U.S. consulted UK before Syrian strike - defence minister

LONDON, April 7 (Reuters) - U.S. Defence Secretary James Mattis asked for Britain’s view on whether Bashar al-Assad’s regime was responsible for a chemical attack in Syria before Washington launched a missile attack on a Syrian airbase, Britain’s defence minister said on Friday.

In a sharp escalation of the U.S. military role in Syria, two U.S. warships fired dozens of cruise missiles from the eastern Mediterranean Sea at the airbase controlled by Assad’s forces in response to the poison gas attack in a rebel-held area on Tuesday.

“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,” Michael Fallon told BBC Television.

“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 said. (Reporting by Costas Pitas; editing by Kate Holton)

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