French President Emmanuel Macron has said he convinced US President Donald Trump not to withdraw troops from Syria and instead commit “for the long term”. Earlier this month, Mr Trump declared that the US would “be coming out of Syria very soon”. On Saturday, joint US, UK and French strikes targeted Syrian government sites in response to an alleged chemical weapons attack.
Mr Macron said he also persuaded Mr Trump to keep the strikes limited. The pair, who are reported to have a friendly relationship, spoke several times in the days before the military action was taken. But after Mr Macron’s comments, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said: “The US mission has not changed – the president has been clear that he wants US forces to come home as quickly as possible”. But she added that the US was “determined to completely crush” the Islamic State group and prevent its return.
Announcing the strikes in an address to the nation on Friday evening in Washington, Mr Trump insisted: “America does not seek an indefinite presence in Syria – under no circumstances.” The US has about 2,000 personnel on the ground in eastern Syria supporting an alliance of Kurdish and Arab militias called the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).