Sir Michael Fallon says the UK "fully supports" the US airstrike on Syria ordered by Donald Trump overnight

Caitlin Morrison
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Sir Michael Fallon said the US consulted him before carrying out last night's airstrike (Source: Getty)

UK defence secretary Sir Michael Fallon said the government fully supported US President Trump's decision to attack Syria.

The US carried out a missile attack against an air base in Syria, responding to a suspected chemical weapons attack on a rebel-held town, with 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles fired at 04:40 Syrian time.

"We fully support this strike - it was limited, it was appropriate, and it was designed to target the aircraft and the equipment that the US believe were used in the chemical attack; and to deter President Assad from carrying out future chemical attacks," said Fallon, who said he was consulted about the strike by US defence secretary James Mattis before it went ahead.

Fallon also said the strike was not viewed as a new military action, but rather part of an ongoing campaign.

"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 told ITV news.

"So we don't see it as the start of a different military campaign."

President Trump's statement

Trump said in the wake of the airstrike that it is in the "vital national security interest of the United States to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons".

"There can be no dispute that Syria used banned chemical weapons, violated its obligations under the chemical weapons convention, and ignored the urging of the UN Security Council," he added.

"Years of previous attempts at changing Assad's behaviour have all failed and failed very dramatically. As a result, the refugee crisis continues to deepen and the region continues to destabilise, threatening the United States and its allies.

"I call on all civilised nations to join us in seeking to end the slaughter and bloodshed in Syria, and also to end terrorism of all kinds and all types."

Gold and oil have both jumped in value today, as investors rush to safe haven assets against a backdrop of increased geopolitical risk.

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