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France's Macron 'deeply regrets' Trump decision to withdraw US troops from Syria

Ludovic Marin, AFP | Chad's president Idriss Deby (R) greets France's President Emmanuel Macron (R) during an official visit to meet with 'Barkhane' soldiers, at the Presidential palace in N'Djamena on December 23, 2018.

French President Emmanuel Macron held a press conference with the Chadian President Idriss Déby in the capital N’Djamena on Sunday, where he spoke about Syria and military operations in the Sahel.

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Macron also spoke about US President Donald Trump’s decision to pull American troops out of Syria.

The French president said, “An ally should be dependable… I very deeply regret the decision made on Syria."

Macron: 'an ally must be reliable'

Trump made a surprise announcement on December 19 that he would withdraw the roughly 2,000 US troops from Syria, declaring that the Islamic State group had been defeated. Security experts say that it is not the case - and it is also at odds with the assessment of Trump's own administration. The move was met with criticism from allies around the world.

Trump 'shocks' global parters

Brett McGurk, the US special presidential envoy for the Global Coalition to Defeat Isis (another acronym for the jihadist group), resigned on Friday after the president’s decision.

In an email announcing his decision to his colleagues obtained by The New York Times, McGurk called Trump's move "a shock" and "a complete reversal of policy that was articulated to us."

"It left our coalition partners confused and our fighting partners bewildered," he said, according to the paper.

His decision to quit follows the resignation of Defence Secretary Jim Mattis the day before.

A French Christmas in Chad

During the joint news conference, Macron reiterated that France would continue to provide military support to Chad in the fight against jihadist groups in the region.

“The only forces fighting against terrorism in the Sahel region are the French forces”, Chad’s Déby said, praising France’s military presence.

The double press conference took place after Macron visited French soldiers stationed in Kossei air base near N’Djamena. The troops are based there as part of Operation Barkhane, a four-year military campaign to oust Islamic jihadists in Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger.

The French president brought typical French Christmas food with him: foie gras, chocolate and champagne for 1,300 troops.

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