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U.S., France and Britain brief NATO allies on Syria

FILE PHOTO: NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks during a news conference with Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, April 4, 2018. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The United States, France and Britain told NATO envoys on Saturday their coordinated air strikes on Syrian government targets overnight were a last resort and aimed to stop more chemical attacks, the alliance’s chief said.

The three allies briefed NATO ambassadors at a special session at the alliance headquarters and won support from the other 26 NATO members, who sought more diplomatic pressure to uphold an international ban on poison gas attacks like the one the West believes Syria conducted on April 7 in Douma.

The strikes “degraded the capabilities of Syria to conduct new attacks and at the same time send a clear message which deters further attacks”, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told a news conference after the meeting.

“We will never have a total guarantee against new attacks as long as we have regimes which are willing to use chemical weapons,” he said. “Chemical weapons cannot be used with impunity and cannot be normalized.”

NATO was not involved in the strikes.

In a separate statement, NATO envoys called on Syria, Russia and Iran to allow “rapid, sustained and unhindered humanitarian access” to areas targeted in Syria’s seven-year-old war.

Reporting by Robin Emmott; Editing by Kevin Liffey