US, France discuss potential French role in Syria: Hagel

US and French defense chiefs on Thursday discussed the possibility of a French role in an American-led air war against the Islamic State group in Syria, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said.

But his French counterpart, Jean-Yves Le Drian, would not confirm or deny that the subject came up during his talks at the Pentagon.

“Yes, we did discuss possibilities of France’s involvement in Syria,” Hagel said at a joint news conference.

The IS group presents a threat that transcends borders, he said, adding: “So it was an issue that we did discuss.”

Le Drian said France was taking part in air strikes against IS in Iraq because Baghdad had made a formal request under the UN charter.

Pressed again on the Syria issue by French journalists after the news conference, Le Drian said: “I cannot answer a question that was not asked.”

France is one of five European countries that have committed aircraft to the campaign in Iraq but none of them are involved in the US-led air attacks on IS in neighboring Syria.

Five Arab countries are participating in the American-led bombing raids in Syria.

The French military said Wednesday that it would deploy three more fighter jets and a naval ship to the Middle East to bolster support for Iraqi forces fighting the IS militants.