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NOUAKCHOTT, Mauritania (Reuters) - The United States informed France before its missile strikes on Syrian military positions, French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said on Friday.
"I was told by (U.S. Secretary of State) Rex Tillerson during the night," Ayrault told Reuters and France Info radio in the Mauritanian capital, Nouakchott, where he was on a diplomatic visit.
Ayrault called the escalation of the U.S. military role in Syria, in which two U.S. warships fired dozens of cruise missiles at an Assad-controlled airbase, "a warning" to "a criminal regime".
The missile strikes came in response to a suspected chemical-weapons attack on a town held by Syrian rebels.
"Use of chemical weapons is appalling and should be punished because it is a war crime," Ayrault said, adding that Russia and Iran needed to understand that supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad made no sense, and that France was not seeking a confrontation with those two countries.
Ayrault added that France's only role in Syria at present was its part in the coalition fighting Islamic State.
Reporting by John Irish; Writing by Andrew Callus; Editing by Dominique Vidalon, Larry King