Macron says he 'convinced' Trump to stay in Syria ahead of strikes

Charlene Craig
April 17, 2018

"The president of the Republic said he wanted the dialogue between France and Russian Federation to continue and intensify in order to bring peace and stability to Syria", the French presidency said after the call, which came as the West ponders possible strikes on Syria in retaliation for a suspected chemical attack.

The United States, Britain and France said they only hit Syria's chemical weapons capabilities and the strikes were not aimed at toppling Syrian President Bashar al-Assad or intervening in the civil war. He didn't elaborate on exactly what that proof is.

The two countries are expected to coordinate their response to the use of chemical weapons, which Macron had said many times would be a "red line" for France that would prompt a possible military reaction.

Mr Macron, who tweeted a picture of himself in a meeting room with military and diplomatic advisers, said a debate about France's military involvement would take place in Parliament. "Could be very soon or not so soon at all", he added.

He said: "France will in no way allow an escalation or anything that would harm regional stability, but we cannot allow regimes that believe they can act with impunity to violate worldwide law in the worst possible way".

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The strikes were a response to the suspected chemical weapons attack on civilians in Douma, outside Damascus, where Syrian forces have always been battling rebels.

Macron previously vowed to launch military action if France had evidence of chemical weapons being used.

The United States, France and Britain launched 105 missiles Saturday targeting what the Pentagon said were three chemical weapons facilities in Syria, in retaliation for a suspected poison gas attack in Douma on April 7.

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.

"I have ordered the French army to intervene tonight as part of the worldwide operation in coalition with the U.S. and Britain directed against the clandestine chemical arsenal of the Syrian regime", he said.

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It also said Syrian air defenses had responded to the US-British-French attack.

If confirmed, the town's seizure would mark the last stage of Assad's takeover of the rebel-held enclave of eastern Ghouta.

Mr Macron's statement comes after a war of words between President Trump and Moscow yesterday - the US President warned Russian Federation "missiles are coming" and the Kremlin responded by vowing to blow up US ships.

The White Helmets, an organization working inside Syria, claimed that 43 people were killed in the attack on Douma.

"Whenever the Syrian army achieves victory in the field, some western countries rise their voices and intensify their movements in an attempt to change the track of events", Assad said, according to SANA.

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He added he would decide on what action to take once all the information has been verified.

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