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Macron ‘Welcomes Trump’s Choice’ to Leave US Troops in Syria

French President, Emmanuel Macron has welcomed the US President’s decision to leave American troops in Syria. The statement contradicts Trump’s earlier claims of withdrawing troops from the nation, citing victory against ISIS.

The US President ordered the withdrawal of all 2,000 troops from Syria last December. However, his decision triggered concerns amongst U.S. allies. The same decision also led to the resignation of his then defense secretary, James Mattis, who asked Trump time and again, not to make the move. Moreover, Macron personally requested his American counterpart to maintain the military presence and warned him of the consequences.

“On the U.S. decision, I can only but welcome this choice,” Macron expressed in a news conference with his Iraqi counterpart Barham Salih.

“The U.S. decision is a good thing. We will continue to operate in the region within the coalition,” he added.

The U.S. is set to leave 400 soldiers in the region, a senior administration official remarked last week. These would further be divided into two areas of 200 each, at the al-Tanf base and in north-eastern Syria as peacekeepers.

Those deployed in the northeast are to serve the larger part of the continent, including Washington’s European allies. According to a US defense official, the troops would have the task of averting an ISIS resurgence in northeast Syria. However, it is still not clear if they would also have the responsibility of training or advising local forces.

The US earlier said that they would only assist by providing air support to keep a check on Syria, but it’s NATO allies rebuked and said that even they won’t provide the troops if the US doesn’t honor its commitment.

Trump, however, denied that his latest decision has changed the situation upside-down stating: “I’m not reversing course. I have done something nobody else has been able to do. At the same time, we can leave a small force, along with others in the force, whether it’s NATO troops or whoever it might be, so that it doesn’t start up again.” He added, “And I’m okay. It’s a very small, tiny fraction of the people we have and a lot of people like that idea and I’m open to ideas.”

France and the U.S. are both part of the Joint Task Force established by the US-led international coalition against ISIS, which has carried out the missions in both Syria and Iraq since 2014.

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