France will remain 'militarily engaged' in Middle East, despite US pull-out: Macron

France will remain 'militarily engaged' in Middle East, despite US pull-out: Macron
French President Emmanuel Macron has said that despite a US pull-out from Syria, Paris remains committed militarily to the Middle East.
2 min read
17 January, 2019
Macron's announcement comes as Trump prepares to pull American troops out of Syria [Getty]

France will remain "militarily engaged" in the Middle East this year, despite the announcement by US President Donald Trump that American troops will be pulled out of Syria.

"The retreat from Syria announced by our American friend cannot make us deviate from our strategic objective: eradicating Daesh (the Islamic State group)," Macron said at an army base in southern France. 

France plays a leading role in the US-led Operation Inherent Resolve campaign against IS in Syria and Iraq.

The jihadi group have lost most of its territory in Syria after US-led coalition planes paved the way for an advance from Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces fighters.

IS were officially defeated in Iraq in December 2017, but attacks from sleeper cells continue.

France has 1,200 soldiers taking part in anti-IS efforts, via air operations, artillery, and special forces in Syria. French troops are also training SDF fighters and the Iraqi military.

Trump's premature announcement that IS had been defeated faced criticism after an IS bomb attack on Wednesday killed four US troops, along with other civilians and SDF fighters.

"The fight is not over," Macron said, adding that in the coming months "we shall revise our global military deployment" but "we shall remain committed to participating in stabilisation" in the Middle East region.

"Any rush to withdraw would be a mistake," he added.

Macron has previously criticised Trump for the announcement of the planned swift American withdrawal, while some of the president's most senior aides resigned in protest.

There are signs now that the pull-out could be slowed down.