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

Lionel Bonaventure POOL AFP | Former French president François Hollande at the Elsyée Palace in Paris

Lionel Bonaventure POOL AFP | Former French president François Hollande at the Elsyée Palace in Paris

"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", Macron's office said after the call, which came as the West ponders possible strikes on Syria in retaliation for a suspected chemical attack.

"We have seen a regime appearing to think they can use chemical weapons with impunity".

"They have not used chlorine themselves but they have methodically built the worldwide community's inability to act through diplomatic channels to stop the use of chemical weapons", he said of Russian Federation.

"Ten days ago, President Trump was saying the United States of America had a duty to disengage from Syria", Macron said.

Backing up its reasons for the air strikes, the foreign ministry released an intelligence report based largely on open sources which concluded that there was no other plausible explanation than a chemical attacked coordinated by the Syrian military.

"We convinced him it was necessary to stay".

"Strikes by US, France and United Kingdom make it clear that Syrian regime together with Russia & Iran can not continue this human tragedy, at least not without cost".

"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. "We convinced him to remain", French President Emmanuel Macron said live on French television BFM and online investigative site Mediapart.

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She added that Washington was "determined to completely crush" the Islamic State group in the country "and create the conditions that will prevent its return".

"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 global law in the worst possible way".

The allied missile attacks in Syria were "legitimate", "limited" and "proportionate", French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said.

The allies fired missiles early on Saturday at three chemical weapons facilities in Syria to punish the regime for the alleged attack on the town of Douma.

In a statement issued after the strikes, he said: 'We can not tolerate the normalisation of the use of chemical weapons'.

Macron added that he was in daily contact with US President Donald Trump and that they would decide on their response "at a time of our choosing, when we judge it to be the most useful and the most effective".

It is the biggest intervention by Western powers against Assad in Syria's seven-year civil war, and Macron's first important military operation since his election in May last year.

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