Donald Trump still wants American troops in Syria to return home as soon as possible, the White House says, after Emmanuel Macron said he had convinced the US President to keep a US presence there for “the long term”.
“The US mission has not changed – the President has been clear that he wants US forces to come home as quickly as possible,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said in a statement.
There are estimated to be around 2,000 US troops in Syria.
Ms Sanders added: “We are determined to completely crush ISIS and create the conditions that will prevent its return. In addition we expect our regional allies and partners to take greater responsibility both militarily and financially for securing the region.”
Earlier, the French President said he had persuaded Mr Trump to stay in Syria and launch airstrikes as punishment for the alleged chemical weapons attack in Douma.
“Ten days ago President Trump wanted the United States of America to withdraw from Syria. We convinced him to remain,” Mr Macron said during a two-hour grilling on French television.
“I assure you, we have convinced him that it is necessary to stay for the long-term,” he added.
Meanwhile, Syrian President Bashar al Assad has said the Western airstrikes in his country were based on “lies” by the UN Security Council.
Speaking to a group of visiting Russian politicians, he said the US, Britain and France had waged a campaign of “lies and misinformation” against Syria and its ally Russia.
The two nations deny using chemical weapons in the attack on Douma in the suburbs of Damascus last Saturday, which triggered the US-led decision to carry out strikes on Friday night.
Mr Assad was described by the Russians as being in a good mood, a day after the airstrikes destroyed three chemical weapons facilities.
Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke to his fellow Syrian ally, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani, on Sunday night.
A Kremlin statement said they agreed “that this illegal action is adversely impacting prospects for political settlement in Syria.”
Mr Putin stressed “it will inevitably entail chaos in international relations” if violations of the UN charter continue.
Mr Rouhani accused the US “and some Western countries” of not wanting Syria “to reach permanent stability”.
However, they agreed to not allow “fire of a new tension” to flare up in the region.
Mr Trump defended his use of the term “mission accomplished” to describe the operation in Syria.
He said the mission was “so perfectly carried out, with such prescion, that the only way the Fake News Media could demean was by my use of the term ‘Mission Accomplished.’
“I knew they would seize on this but felt it is such a great Military term, it should be brought back. Use often!”
Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, said treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin will announce on Monday further economic sanctions on Russia for supporting the Syrian regime.
She said it would affect companies “dealing with equipment related to Assad and any chemical weapons use” as Russia needed to feel the consequences for “protecting” the Assad regime.
US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said it is now the international community’s obligation to act in Syria as “Russia has failed to do so”.
She told Sky News: “The United States, Britain and France – responsible allies – are showing Bashar al Assad that he has to stop.
“We will defend the rights of his people even if he won’t do it himself.”
As world leaders and their representatives set out their views on the strikes, hundreds of people in Turkey, Iraq, India and Cyprus protested against the mission.
Left-wing activists in Cyprus took to the road outside the gates of RAF Akrotiri, the British military base on the island where jets involved in the operation took off from.
Socialist Unity Centre of India activists in Kolkata burned an effigy of Donald Trump as they protested the strikes.
In Istanbul, protesters outside the French Consulate demonstrated against the “imperialist aggression in Syria” while those in Baghdad carried Syrian flags as a show of unity as they burned US flags.
The leader of Hezbollah, the Lebonon-based, Iranian-backed militant group, said the strikes have strained international relations and could totally “torpedo” UN peace talks in Geneva.
Hassan Nasrallah said the strikes were “limited” and were a recognition of the strength of the “resistance axis” – referencing the alliance between Syria, Iran and Hezbollah.
In the UK, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, Lib Dem leader Vince Cable and SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon criticised the strikes.
Mr Corbyn called for a War Powers Act to make it necessary for MPs to approve future British military action, with the Opposition leader criticising Theresa May’s decision to carry out the strikes without parliamentary approval.
He also called her justification on humanitarian grounds “legally debatable”.
Mr Cable told Sky News it was a “mistake” to launch the strikes “without getting proper political endorsement”, adding the move was a “mistake of judgement” borne out of political weakness.
And Ms Sturgeon questioned the Prime Minister’s assertion there was “no practical alternative”, saying she was not sure if that “is really the case”.
She called for a full parliamentary debate on the matter.
Foreign Minister Boris Johnson defended the strikes, saying Britain had a duty to show Syria had not “got away” with using chemical weapons.
Theresa May will go before the Commons on Monday to answer questions about her decision, after insisting there was no “alternative path”.
From – SkyNews