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.”


Two US service members killed in Afghanistan

Updated 14 min 25 sec ago
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Two US service members killed in Afghanistan

  • The US military’s mission is focused on guiding and aiding Afghan forces battling the Taliban
  • Violence has been relentless in the country, despite ongoing talks between the Taliban and the US

KABUL: Two US service members were killed in Afghanistan on Friday while conducting an operation, the NATO-led Resolute Support mission said in a statement.
It gave no further details and withheld the names of the service members until next of kin were informed.
The US military’s mission is focused on guiding and aiding Afghan forces battling the Taliban, who were ousted from power in 2001.
Violence has been relentless in Afghanistan even though Taliban militants have held several rounds of talks with US officials about a peace settlement.
The latest talks wrapped up this month with both sides citing progress, but no agreement to end the 17-year war.
The Resolute Support Mission consists of 17,000 troops, about half of them from the United States.