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U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis in Munich, Germany, February 17, 2017. REUTERS/Michael Dalder

(reuters_tickers)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. cruise missile strike on a Syrian air base last week damaged or destroyed 20 percent of Syria's operational aircraft, as well as fuel and ammunition sites and air defence capabilities, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said on Monday.

"The Syrian government has lost the ability to refuel or re-arm aircraft at Shayrat airfield and at this point, use of the runway is of idle military interest," Mattis said in a statement.

"The Syrian government would be ill-advised ever again to use chemical weapons."

(Reporting by Phil Stewart and Idrees Ali)

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