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

French President Emmanuel Macron visits the Forbidden City in Beijing, in this Jan. 9, 2018 photo. (AP)
Updated 20 January 2018
0

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

TOULON, France: French President Emmanuel Macron said Friday that Daesh 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 aid to populations” after years of conflict, he said.
With many of its leaders dead and its fighters on the run, Daesh 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.”


Poland may cancel visit to Israel amid new Holocaust spat

Updated 24 min 6 sec ago
0

Poland may cancel visit to Israel amid new Holocaust spat

  • Spokesman from the Polish PM’s office says FM attendance is not confirmed

WARSAW: A government official says Poland is considering pulling out altogether from a visit to Israel over a comment made by the acting Israeli foreign minister, the latest in a bitter new Holocaust spat between the two nations.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki already pulled out of the meeting Monday and Tuesday to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by leaders from Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz was tapped to go in his place.
On Monday, Michal Dworczyk, the head Morawiecki’s office, said Czaputowicz’s attendance is now in doubt over comments made by Israel Katz, the acting foreign minister.
Katz said Sunday that Poles “sucked anti-Semitism from their mothers’ milk,” citing something once said by former Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, whose father was murdered by Poles.