French president Emmanuel Macron has clarified comments that he "convinced" his USA counterpart Donald Trump to maintain a U.S. military presence in Syria - a remark which prompted a rebuttal from the White House.
Europe's two biggest military powers took a gamble in lining up behind U.S. President Donald Trump to bombard Syria. In telephone calls with Trump, he also said he "persuaded him that we needed to limit the strikes to chemical weapons [sites], after things got a little carried away over tweets".
American objectives in Syria have not altered, the White House said Sunday, reiterating that President Donald Trump wants United States troops home "as quickly as possible".
The U.S., United Kingdom and France jointly launched strikes early on Saturday targeting the Assad regime's alleged chemical weapons research center near Damascus, a chemical weapons warehouse and a command center linked to chemical weapons located west of Homs, U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Joseph Dunford said at a joint news conference with American Secretary of Defense James Mattis.
"The tone was very direct, the two presidents were under no illusion about what was going to happen", the advisor told Reuters on Saturday, soon after the overnight air strikes.
Saturday's strikes on Syria were the first major military operation since Macron's election in May previous year.
"We convinced him it was necessary to stay", he added. "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.
Also on Saturday, the French Foreign Ministry released a seven-page long assessment of the alleged chemical attack in Syria's Douma on April 7, which concluded that there was no other plausible explanation than a chemical attack coordinated by the Syrian military.
It is understood the French leader spoke with Vladimir Putin just hours before the strike.
The French president will visit Russian Federation next month.
"Of course they are complicit". There are no changes to his planned trip to Russian Federation next month, he said. "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.
But he again argued it had been necessary to send a signal that the use of chemical weapons against civilians would not go unpunished.
"All of our missiles reached their target", he said.