Macron says persuaded Trump to keep troops in Syria

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The White House reacted Sunday night to France's claim that it "convinced" President Donald Trump to maintain the USA military presence in Syria, shortly after the two allies took part in airstrikes against the Assad regime.

Defending France's participation in the joint air strikes targeting Syrian government's chemical capabilities, the 40-year-old head of state called the operation "a legitimate retaliatory act" after evidence proved that chemical gas attack was used in Douma on April 7 and which "could be attributed to" the Syrian government.

"Ten days ago, President Trump was saying "the United States should withdraw from Syria".

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

The bombings marked the biggest intervention by Western countries against Assad and ally Russian Federation but the United States, France and Britain have said the missile strikes were limited to Syria's chemical weapons capabilities and not aimed at toppling Assad or intervening in the civil war.

Macron said on Sunday that the operation against Syria was "legitimate" and conducted within the worldwide community framework.

"We also persuaded him that we needed to limit the strikes to chemical weapons (sites), after things got a little carried away over tweets", he said.

He said the military strikes early on Saturday had been "perfectly carried out" but were not a declaration of war on Syria.

He reaffirmed that there was proof of chemical attacks, adding: "We had reached a point where these strikes were necessary to give back the (international) community some credibility".

He also claimed France was the most active country in the diplomatic arena and at the United Nations, and said his country wanted to include Western powers, Russian Federation and Turkey in a new diplomatic initiative to find a sustainable political solution in Syria.

"Of course they are complicit".

The French president nevertheless said he wanted to engage in dialogue with all parties involved, including Moscow, in order to find a political solution for Syria.

Russian Federation says the attack in Douma was staged, accusing the United Kingdom of orchestrating it.

Macron had warmer words for Turkey.

A tweet from Mr Trump last week about U.S. missile strikes on Syria had read: "Get ready, Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and "smart". The Turks condemned the chemical weapons".

Mr Macron insisted the Western allies had "complete worldwide legitimacy to act" in Syria.

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

"It's the condition to have peace", Macron told news channel BFM TV, RMC radio and Mediapart online news on Sunday, Xinhua reported.

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