White House: Trump still wants to withdraw forces from Syria

White House spokeswoman responds to Macron, says Trump still wants U.S. forces in Syria to return home as soon as possible.

Elad Benari ,

Donald Trump
Donald Trump

President Donald Trump still wants U.S. forces in Syria to return home as soon as possible, the White House said on Sunday, according to Reuters.

"The U.S. mission has not changed -- the president has been clear that he wants U.S. forces to come home as quickly as possible," White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said in a statement quoted by the news agency.

"We are determined to completely crush ISIS and create the conditions that will prevent its return. In addition we expect our regional allies and partners to take greater responsibility both militarily and financially for securing the region," she added.

The statement came hours after French President Emmanuel Macron said he had convinced Trump to keep a U.S. presence in Syria for "the long term."

“Ten days ago, President Trump was saying ‘the United States should withdraw from Syria’. We convinced him it was necessary to stay,” Macron said in an interview on French media, as quoted by Reuters.

“We convinced him it was necessary to stay for the long term,” he added.

Macron spoke a day after the United States, France and Britain launched joint air strikes on Syria in response to the regime’s use of chemical weapons on civilians in Douma.

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

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

“We also persuaded him that we needed to limit the strikes to chemical weapons (sites), after things got a little carried away over tweets,” he was quoted as having said.

Earlier on Sunday, U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley told Fox News that the American withdrawal from Syria was off the table for the time being, stating that the U.S. would remain involved in the war-torn country until it had achieved its goals.

The U.S. wants to “see American troops come home,” Haley stressed, “but we are not going to leave until we know we have accomplished those things.”

America’s goals in Syria, Haley said, included the defeat of the ISIS terror group, ensuring that chemical weapons do not threaten U.S. interests, and monitoring Iranian actions in the region.