White House says Trump still wants US troops home from Syria 'as quickly as possible'

Emmanuel Macron had suggested France convinced the US leader to keep troops on the ground

White House says Trump still wants US troops home from Syria 'as quickly as possible'

Picture by: Susan Walsh/AP/Press Association Images

Updated 9.30am

Donald Trump is still planning to withdraw US troops from Syria 'as quickly as possible', the White House has said.

It comes after French President Emmanuel Macron said he had persuaded President Trump to keep US troops on the ground in Syria.

Mr Macron was speaking on French television following the weekend strikes against Syrian sites in retaliation for the alleged chemical weapons attack in Douma.

The French leader said: "Ten days ago President Trump wanted the United States of America to withdraw from Syria. We persuaded him to remain.

"I assure you, we have convinced him that it is necessary to stay for the long-term."

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders has moved to clarify the US stance, saying: "The US mission has not changed - the President has been clear that he wants US forces to come home as quickly as possible.

"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."

Earlier this month, US media reported that President Trump had ordered military leaders to 'quickly wrap up the military operation in Syria'.

There are approximately 2,000 US troops in Syria, as part of a campaign against the Islamic State group.

'Lies and misinformation'

Photo taken on April 14, 2018 shows relics of the Scientific Research Center in the Barzeh neigborhood of northeast of Damascus, after United States, Britain and France carried out a wave of joint airstrikes on Syrian military facilities. Picture by: Monsef Memari/Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

The US, along with France and the UK, has publicly blamed the regime of Bashar al-Assad for the alleged attack in Douma - claims denied by both the regime and its ally Russia.

Speaking to visiting Russian politicians over the weekend, the Syrian leader accused the US, the UK and France of waging a campaign of "lies and misinformation".

The situation in Syria is also on the agenda as EU foreign affairs ministers meet in Luxembourg today.

In a statement ahead of the meeting, Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney said he welcomes the opportunity to discuss Syria with his EU colleagues, "especially in light of the most recent horrific chemical attack which took place in Douma".

He added: "My colleagues and I will examine what the EU can do to help bring about a peaceful end to the conflict and full legal accountability."

Speaking on the Pat Kenny Show, Minister Coveney said they will get a more detailed update on the strikes from France and the UK today.

He says that while he doesn't want to see tensions escalate 'between the US and Russia in particular', those behind attacks on innocent civilians must be held accountable.

He observed: "I think anybody else who was watching the imagery of the results of that chemical attack would feel sick to their stomach.

"I think the international community has to be strong on this issue. I would have much preferred if it was the UN that was taking robust action in terms of accountability, independent inspection, and taking a legal prosecution after investigation on the basis of international war crimes... but that clearly hasn't been possible - yet anyway - through the UN."

British Prime Minister leader Theresa May, meanwhile, is set to face a grilling from MPs in the House of Commons later today over the UK's role in the Saturday morning airstrikes against targets in Syria.