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For France's Macron, Syria red lines were credibility test

17 April 2018

Two weeks ago, Trump has expressed a strong desire to pull American troops out of Syria, but the president appears to be reconsidering in the wake of a coalition strike on the Syrian regime's chemical warfare infrastructure in the aftermath of a deadly chemical weapons attack in the suburbs of Damascus.

After a first phone call with U.S. President Donald Trump that night, a series of painstaking daily meetings with defense and foreign affairs officials took place to check the authenticity of images and information coming from Syria.

French President Emmanuel Macron said on Sunday that Paris had convinced Donald Trump to stay engaged in Syria "for the long-term" - but just a few hours later the White House said the United States mission in the war-torn country "has not changed".

"We convinced him it was necessary to remain there".

"We have not declared war on the regime of Bashar al-Assad", the 40-year-old centrist said at the start of a marathon two-hour interview with BFM television to mark nearly a year in office.

Mr Macron said "we can not tolerate the normalisation of the use of chemical weapons", in a statement.

Russian Federation and Iran called the use of force by the United States and its French and British allies a "military crime" and "act of aggression".

Pointing to the overnight strike, another advisor to Macron said: "This is proof today that the political line he drew at the start of his mandate was meant to be respected". "You shouldn't be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!"

The White House, however, pushed back on the reports.

The US now has about 2,000 personnel in Eastern Syria, says the BBC, "supporting an alliance of Kurdish and Arab militias called the Syrian Democratic Forces".

He said the military operation in Syria was legitimate and within the global community framework, and was not a declaration of war.

The strikes followed a suspected chemical weapons attack on civilians in Douma, outside Damascus, where Syrian forces have always been battling rebels. "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 of Russian Federation.

The strikes launched by U.S., United Kingdom and France represent the most significant attack against President Bashar al-Assad's government by Western powers in the seven years of the Syrian conflict.

For France's Macron, Syria red lines were credibility test