USA troops to stay in Syria

Erika Holt
April 17, 2018

"Ten days ago, President Trump was saying 'the United States should withdraw from Syria.' We convinced him it was necessary to stay", Macron said in an interview broadcast by BFM TV, RMC radio and Mediapart online news.

Appearing in a two-hour live broadcast on French television BFM and online investigative site Mediapart, the 40-year-old leader said the U.S., Britain and France had "full worldwide legitimacy to intervene" in order to enforce global humanitarian law.

But he again argued it had been necessary to send a signal that the use of chemical weapons against civilians would not go unpunished. "We convinced him to remain", he said, speaking in the majestic room of Chaillot National Theater, with the Eiffel Tower shining in the background".

On Friday, Trump said that the USA is "prepared to sustain this response until the Syrian regime stops its use of prohibited chemical agents".

While this operation was not sanctioned by the United Nations, Syria was supposed to destroy its chemical weapons arsenal under a 2013 UN resolution, he said.

As for his allies, Macron suggested France played a pivotal role in changing Trump's mind on the need to stay involved in the conflict.

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While it is unusual for a French president to present himself as driving US policy in military matters in the Middle East, Macron and Trump have developed a friendly relationship over the past year.

Upon being asked in the interview of Russia's condemnation of the Syria attack, which Moscow also called illegal, Macron said, "We have three members of the [United Nations] Security Council who have intervened".

"The U.S. mission has not changed - the President has been clear that he wants USA forces to come home as quickly as possible", press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement.

But she added that the USA was "determined to completely crush" the Islamic State group and prevent its return. There are no changes to his planned trip to Russian Federation next month, he said. After his generals talked him down from that idea, he opted for a conventional, possibly fruitless strike on Syrian chemical-weapons facilities.

Trump's complete lack of philosophical coherence is part of the reason Macron and U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May face fury from both their left and right for supporting Trump's air strikes.

"This mandate is given democratically to the president by the people in the presidential election", he said.

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