Macron sees Daesh military defeat in Syria, Iraq within ‘weeks’

French President Emmanuel Macron said that Daesh in Syria and Iraq would be defeated militarily “in the coming weeks.”(AFP)
Updated 20 January 2018
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Macron sees Daesh military defeat in Syria, Iraq within ‘weeks’

TOULON: French President Emmanuel Macron said Friday that the Daesh organization in Syria and Iraq would be defeated militarily “in the coming weeks,” as he laid out plans for bolstering France’s defense capabilities.
“Today, thanks to the efforts of all the nations involved, the Daesh military organization in the Levant is almost completely defeated,” Macron said in a speech aboard a helicopter carrier in the southern port of Toulon.
“I’m confident that in the coming weeks we will achieve a military victory on the ground,” he said.
“I want us now to firmly commit with our partners to stabilization, reconstruction and aide to populations” after years of conflict, he said.
With many of its leaders dead and its fighters on the run, IS has now lost almost all the land it once controlled in Syria and Iraq.
France, which recently pulled out two of the 12 Rafale fighter jets it had been operating in the region, currently has about 1,200 personnel in the international coalition fighting the militants.
Macron said that although combat operations would continue, the country would “adapt” its contribution this year to developments, without providing details.
The French government has increased the 2018 defense budget by 1.8 billion euros, bringing it to 34.2 billion euros ($42 billion).
Macron reiterated his pledge to lift French defense spending to two percent of the country’s GDP by 2025, in line with the target agreed to by NATO members in 2014.
The increased spending will include a “renewal” of France’s nuclear arsenal during his five-year term, Macron said, calling nuclear deterrence “the keystone of our defense strategy for the past 50 years.”


Sergio Aguero, Kevin De Bruyne close to Manchester City return, says Pep Guardiola

Updated 42 min 52 sec ago
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Sergio Aguero, Kevin De Bruyne close to Manchester City return, says Pep Guardiola

MANCHESTER: Sergio Aguero and Kevin De Bruyne are both on the verge of a return to action for Manchester City as a busy December program gathers pace, manager Pep Guardiola said on Friday.
Aguero, City’s leading scorer, has missed their past four matches with a groin problem but has been able to train without discomfort and could face Everton at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.
Belgium midfielder De Bruyne suffered ligament damage to his right knee in August and although he returned in October, he then injured his left knee during the League Cup win over Fulham on November 1.
He too has resumed full training and Guardiola will assess both players in the hope that his lengthy casualty list might be about to ease.
The manager, though, is optimistic on 30-year-old Aguero, who has 12 goals in all competitions this season.
“He did the last two training sessions, including on Thursday and he has no pain in his injury so we’ll decide,” he said.
“Kevin is in the same situation as Sergio. Yesterday he trained with no pain, we will see.”
The win over Hoffenheim enabled City to get back on track after the disappointment of seeing their 15-match unbeaten start to the Premier League season end in a 2-0 defeat at Chelsea last Saturday.
“Last season, when we dropped points, we were able to respond with another big run,” he said.