PARIS – French President Emmanuel Macron defended on Tuesday his country’s legacy in the Syrian civil war and dismissed as unacceptable a series of scathing remarks made by Syria’s President Bashar Assad, who recently suggested France was a supporter of terrorism in the conflict-ridden Arab nation and was therefore in no position to participate in peace negotiations.
Macron recently said that the Islamic State terror organization could be wiped out of Syria completely by the end of February, adding that he would push for constructive peace talks that included Assad, but the once-embattled Syrian leader offered a scathing rebuke that France had spearheaded its support for terrorism in Syria since the early days of the war.
At an Elysee Palace press conference with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, Macron said France’s contingency in Syria has been “coherent from the beginning.”
He added that it had always targeted the IS and that only the United-States-led International Coalition, of which France’s Air Force is a participant member, was the only force capable of bringing an end to the terror organization’s presence in Syria.
Assad’s comments sparked widespread criticism among senior French officials.
France’s Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, on a visit to Washington, said he would not take lessons from someone who massacred his own people.