France staying in Syria to fight ISIS, surprised by Trump decision

French officials on Wednesday said that the nation is keeping troops in northern Syria because ISIS has not been defeated and still poses a threat, according to Reuters.

France is a leading member of a U.S.-led coalition fighting in Syria and Iraq. Reuters reports that the country has about 1,100 troops operating in Iraq and Syria.


Diplomats from nation told Reuters that they were surprised by President TrumpDonald TrumpGiuliani used provisional ballot to vote in 2020 election, same method he disparaged in fighting to overturn results Trump gets lowest job approval rating in final days as president Fox News' DC managing editor Bill Sammon to retire MORE's announcement on Wednesday that the U.S. would be withdrawing its troops from the region. 

“It shows that we can have different priorities and that we must count on ourselves first,” Europe Minister Nathalie Loiseau told C-News television, according to Reuters. “For now, of course, we are staying in Syria because the fight against Islamic State is essential.”

French Defense Minister Florence Parly in a tweet acknowledged that the Islamic State militant group has been weakened, but added that the battle was not over. 

“Islamic State has not been wiped from the map nor have its roots. The last pockets of this terrorist organization must be defeated militarily once and for all,” Parly said.

Reuters reports that French President Emanuel Macron, who in April said he had convinced Trump to stay in Syria longterm, spoke with Trump on Wednesday. The news service added that officials in France are scrambling to understand what Trump's troop withdrawal means, and when it will take place. 

The White House announced Wednesday that it had defeated ISIS in Syria and as a result would begin withdrawing troops. 

"Five years ago, ISIS was a very powerful and dangerous force in the Middle East, and now the United States has defeated the territorial caliphate," White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement. "These victories over ISIS in Syria do not signal the end of the Global Coalition or its campaign. We have started returning United States troops home as we transition to the next phase of this campaign."

Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle criticized the move on Wednesday. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said that withdrawing troops would be an "Obama-like mistake."

Trump has defended the move, tweeting on Thursday morning that "getting out of Syria was no surprise."

"I’ve been campaigning on it for years, and six months ago, when I very publicly wanted to do it, I agreed to stay longer. Russia, Iran, Syria & others are the local enemy of ISIS. We were doing there work. Time to come home & rebuild."