Syria strikes' aim met, more possible if red line crossed

Syria strikes' aim met, more possible if red line crossed

French President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday said he had convinced U.S. President Donald Trump to keep troops in Syria for the long term and limit joint strikes to chemical weapons facilities.

The United States, Britain and France said they only hit Syria's chemical weapons capabilities and the strikes were not aimed at toppling Syrian President Bashar al-Assad or intervening in the civil war.

Macron defended the air strikes France, the United Kingdom, and U.S. carried out in Syria early Saturday in retaliation for a suspected chemical attack by the regime of Bashar al-Assad on a Damascus suburb last week.

Macron said that failing so far to get the red lines respected had led Russian authorities to think of Western powers that "these people from the worldwide community - they are nice, they are weak".

While it is unusual for a French president to present himself as driving US policy in military matters in the Middle East, Macron and Trump have developed a friendly relationship over the past year.

Macron said limiting the strikes to these specific targets was not necessarily Trump's initial plan.

Saturday's strikes on Syria were the first major military operation since Macron's election in May past year.

He said the US, France and Britain targeted "extremely precise sites of chemical weapons use" in an operation that went off "perfectly".

French President Emmanuel Macron poses on the TV set before an interview with RMC-BFM and Mediapart French journalists at the Theatre National de Chaillot in Paris, France, April 15, 2018.

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It is understood the French leader spoke with Vladimir Putin just hours before the strike.

"Of course they are complicit".

European Union Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said: "The global community has the responsibility to identify and hold accountable those responsible of any attack with chemical weapons".

British Prime Minister Theresa May said in London that the West had tried "every possible" diplomatic means to stop Assad from using chemical weapons.

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.

At a meeting of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), UK representative Peter Wilson said: "Russia has argued that the attack on Douma was somehow staged, or faked".

"These strikes against Syria engage us in a way with unpredictable and potentially dramatic consequences", she warned on Twitter.

In a phone call with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on the weekend, Russian leader Vladimir Putin said any further strikes by the United States in Syria could lead to "chaos in global relations", according to a statement from the Kremlin. A day after warning starkly that "missiles will be coming", Trump in another morning tweet wrote: "Never said when an attack on Syria would take place".

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