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Macron justifies Syria airstrikes

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Macron justifies Syria airstrikes

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French President Emmanuel Macron has justified Saturday's airstrikes on Syria as "legitimate". In a marathon televised interview of nearly three hours he was grilled on a variety of subjects, but it was the strikes by France, the United States and Britain against Syrian regime targets, which dominated.

"According to Syrian and Russian authorities, there are no victims on their side. That's exactly what we wanted to do," said President Macron.

"We hit very precisely sites of chemical weapons, which breached all international laws and in particular those on their usage, according to our commitments. And finally, there was no collateral damage on the Russian side."

Macron added that Russia, which backs Assad politically and militarily, had made itself complicit in the Syrian government's actions.

"Of course they are complicit. They have not used chlorine themselves but they have methodically built the international community's inability to act through diplomatic channels to stop the use of chemical weapons," he said of Russia.

The French president nevertheless said he wanted to engage in dialogue with all parties involved, including Moscow, in order to find a political solution for Syria. There are no changes to his planned trip to Russia next month, he added.

Macron went on to claim that he had convinced President Donald Trump to keep US troops in Syria and to keep the strikes limited.

"Ten days ago, President Trump was saying 'the United States should withdraw from Syria'. We convinced him that we needed to stay for the long term. We also persuaded him that we needed to limit the strikes to chemical weapons (sites), after things got a little carried away over tweets, as you know."

Hours after the interview the White House issued a statement stressing that President Trump still wants US forces to return home as soon as possible.