President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron
By Mark Moore
French President Emmanuel Macron backed off his assertion that the United States had changed its policy on Syria after the White House rejected his claim that he had persuaded President Trump to keep troops in the war-torn country, a report said Monday.
Macron said Sunday that he had told Trump that he should keep American forces in Syria for the “long term” after the president suddenly announced in a speech in Ohio last month that he wanted to pull out “very soon,” Reuters reported.
The White House late Sunday released a statement saying that while Trump wants Islamic State terrorists in the country defeated, he also wants the troops to return home.
“The U.S. mission has not changed — the president has been clear that he wants U.S. forces to come home as quickly as possible,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement. “We are determined to completely crush ISIS and create the conditions that will prevent its return.
“In addition, we expect our regional allies and partners to take greater responsibility both militarily and financially for securing the region. ”
Macron then pivoted to say he and Trump hold the same viewpoint on Syria.
“The White House is right in saying that the military engagement is against Daesh and will stop the day the war against Daesh will be over. France has the same view,” Macron said, using the Arabic acronym for ISIS.
“But yes, I am right in saying that the United States, because they decided this intervention with us, fully realized that our responsibility goes beyond the war against Daesh and that there is also a humanitarian responsibility and a responsibility to build peace over the long term,” Macron added.
France joined with Britain and the US on Saturday to launch airstrikes against Syria for Bashar al-Assad’s use of chemical weapons against his people on April 7 in Douma, killing scores of people and injuring hundreds more.
The coalition launched a barrage of missiles in a pre-dawn raid Saturday, targeting three facilities in Syria used to develop chemical weapons.
Meanwhile, the US envoy to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said that Russia may have tampered with the attack site in Douma.
“It is long overdue that this council condemns the Syrian government for its reign of chemical terror and demands international accountability for those responsible for these heinous acts,” US Ambassador Kenneth Ward said, according to Reuters.
“It is our understanding the Russians may have visited the attack site. It is our concern that they may have tampered with it with the intent of thwarting the efforts of the OPCW Fact-Finding Mission to conduct an effective investigation,” he said.