The White House says President Donald Trump remains determined to pull out U.S. troops deployed in Syria, a message that comes after French President Emmanuel Macron said he convinced Trump to keep U.S. forces there.
“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 late Sunday.
She added that the United States wants to “complete crush” the Islamic State militant group and work to prevent it from coming back.
Macron spoke earlier Sunday to France’s BFM television, saying: “Ten days ago, President Trump was saying ‘The United States should withdraw from Syria,’ We convinced him it was necessary to stay for the long term.”
The comments come two days after France joined the United States and Britain in airstrikes against Syrian chemical weapons sites.
Macron also said he told Trump that it was necessary to limit the airstrikes in Syria, suggesting Trump wanted to go further.
“We also persuaded him that we needed to limit the strikes to chemical weapons sites after things got a little carried away over tweets,” Macron told reporters.
The French leader said there is proof the Syrian government used poison gas in Douma and that missile strikes were necessary to give the international community credibility. He also said Syrian ally Russia is complicit.
“They have not used chlorine themselves but they have methodically built the international community’s inability to act through diplomatic channels to stop the use of chemical weapons.”
Macron told BFM that France has not declared war on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, but it was necessary to show Assad that using poison gas on civilians will not go unpunished.