France's Macron says he persuaded Trump to keep troops in Syria

Brigitte Macron

PARIS-French President Emmanuel Macron said Sunday he convinced his US counterpart, Donald Trump, to not disengage from Syria and to limit airstrikes to chemical-weapons targets.

"We convinced him it was necessary to stay", he added.

Insisting that the strikes were legitimate, Macron hailed the operation targeting Syrian chemical weapons facilities as a military success.

He said the US, France and Britain targeted "extremely precise sites of chemical weapons use" in an operation that went off "perfectly".

"I assure you, we have convinced him that it is necessary to stay for the long-term", he told veteran journalists Jean-Jacques Bourdin and Edwy Plenel, charged with the two-hour grilling on BFMTV.

"Without declaring war against Bashar al-Assad, the joint strikes achieved their aims without leaving collateral casualties", confirmed Macron, adding that Damscus' chemical weapons capabilities have been destroyed.

Macron said on Sunday that the operation against Syria was "legitimate" and conducted within the global community framework. Macron said officials helped narrow the president's focus for potential strikes after he had "gotten a little carried away over tweets", Reuters reported.

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Saturday's strikes on Syria were the first major military operation since Macron's election in May a year ago.

Macron said that failing so far to get the red lines respected had led Russian authorities to think of Western powers that "these people from the worldwide community - they are nice, they are weak".

However, he repeatedly warned the Syrian government that he would intervene military if alleged use of chemical arms would be proved.

"America does not seek an indefinite presence in Syria", he said. There are no changes to his planned trip to Russian Federation next month, he said. "With those strikes we have separated the Russians and the Turks on this".

And he further argued the operation was legitimate despite not being sanctioned by the United Nations, retorting that under a 2013 United Nations resolution Syria was supposed to destroy its chemical weapons arsenal.

The US said 105 missiles were launched and it believed none were intercepted by Syrian defences.

Macron said the U.S., Britain and France had "full worldwide legitimacy to intervene" with the strikes, to enforce global humanitarian law.

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