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

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.”


Thailand reports 1 new coronavirus case, no new deaths

Updated 1 min 7 sec ago

Thailand reports 1 new coronavirus case, no new deaths

  • Local infections have significantly slowed and over the last two weeks
  • The coronavirus has killed 57 people in Thailand since it was first detected in January

BANGKOK: Thailand reported one new coronavirus case on Saturday and no new deaths, taking the total number of infections to 3,077 as local transmission of the new virus appears to wane.
The new patient arrived in Thailand via a land border with Malaysia earlier this week and has been in quarantine, said Panprapa Yongtrakul, a spokeswoman for the government’s Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration.
Local infections have significantly slowed and over the last two weeks, 43 of 52 new cases were Thais who had arrived from abroad, Panprapa added.
The coronavirus has killed 57 people in Thailand since it was first detected in January.