12:00 AM, December 21, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:06 AM, December 21, 2018


Trump defends decision

US President Donald Trump yesterday defended his surprise decision to declare victory over Islamic State militants and completely withdraw US troops from Syria, amid criticism from some Republicans and concern from allies and some US military commanders. In a series of early posts on Twitter, Trump said he was fulfilling a promise from his 2016 presidential campaign to leave the Middle Eastern nation. The United States was doing the work of other countries, including Russia and Iran, with little in return and it was "time for others to finally fight," he wrote.

Still more to do against IS: UK

Britain has insisted "much remains to be done" in fighting the Islamic State group in Syria.  Junior defence minister Tobias Ellwood was more blunt, retweeting a message from Trump that the jihadists had been defeated in Syria with the words: "I strongly disagree. It has morphed into other forms of extremism and the threat is very much alive." UK said it believes without territory, IS can still spill terror. 

France to stay 

France will maintain its participation in the coalition fighting Islamic State forces in Syria, government officials said yesterday. "For now of course we remain in Syria," France's European Affairs Minister Nathalie Loiseau said on CNews television, adding "the fight against terrorism is not over." France has stationed fighter jets in Jordan and artillery along the Syrian border in Iraq as part of the US-led coalition, as well as an undisclosed number of special forces on the ground.

Turkey, Iran hold talks 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan yesterday held talks with Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani. The two leaders sat down for the meeting in Ankara, which was arranged before US President Donald Trump's announcement. Ankara has repeatedly called for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's ouster and supported Syrian opposition fighters. Tehran and Moscow are Damascus's strongest allies and have helped to turn the war in Assad's favour.

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