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France Will Continue ISIS Fight in Syria as Strikes Hit Deir Ezzour

France Will Continue ISIS Fight in Syria as Strikes Hit Deir Ezzour

Thursday, 17 January, 2019 - 19:00
French President Emmanuel Macron. (AFP)
Asharq Al-Awsat
French President Emmanuel Macron declared Thursday that Paris will remain involved in the battle against ISISI in Syria whether the US pulls out of the country or not.

In his New Year speech to the armed forces in Toulouse, in southern France, Macron said President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw forces from Syria "must not make us deviate from our goal: eradicating ISIS."

He added: "Any hasty decision to withdraw would be a mistake."

France has been involved in Syria since 2015, mostly through airstrikes, as a member of the international coalition fighting ISIS.

Macron also expressed support for French troops fighting extremism in Africa and protecting France against terrorism at home.

He reiterated his ambition to establish a European military force for rapid intervention in case of conflict.

On the ground, Syrian activists reported intense airstrikes on the last area held by ISIS in the country's east where the extremists' control has been shrinking over the past weeks.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Thursday the airstrikes hit the 15 square kilometers (5.8 square miles) controlled by ISIS in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor after US-backed Kurdish-led fighters of the Syrian Democratic Forces scored gains in recent weeks.

Europe-based activist Omar Abu Layla of the Deir Ezzor 24 monitoring group confirmed intense airstrikes are ongoing, adding that they were triggered by a counter-offensive carried out by ISIS during a strong fog.

The airstrikes came a day after a suicide attack carried by ISIS insurgents killed 19 people, including four Americans, in the northern town of Manbij.

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