French President Emmanuel Macron said he persuaded President Donald Trump to keep troops in Syria and commit to a long-term strategy.
Speaking to the French channel BFMTV Sunday, Macron said that Trump was considering removing American troops from Syria, but France and other allies managed to change the mind of the U.S. president.
“Ten days ago, President Trump was saying the United States of America had a duty to disengage from Syria,” Macron said. “I assure you, we have convinced him that it is necessary to stay for the long term,” he added.
Early on Saturday, French, U.S. and U.K. armed forces carried out joint strikes in Syria. The aim was to destroy chemical weapons at a government site in Syria, after an alleged attack in Douma, near Damascus, on April 7. The Syrian regime has denied carrying out the chemical attack.
Following Macron’s interview, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said that the U.S. mission in Syria had not changed. “The president has been clear that he wants U.S. forces to come home as quickly as possible,” she said. The U.S. reportedly has about 2,000 personnel on the ground in Syria.
Macron also said Sunday that he told Russian President Vladimir Putin directly that Russia was “complicit” in the alleged chemical attack in Douma. Putin has denied any involvement from the Russian authorities — which support the Syrian regime of Bashar Assad.
Meanwhile, Nikki Haley, the United States Ambassador to the United Nations, said Sunday that Russian companies with links to the Syrian president would suffer a second wave of sanctions. These are set to be announced on Monday.