Macron rejects al-Assad remarks over France sponsoring terrorism

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French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday said Paris sole priority in Syria was to eradicate the terrorists, rebuffing Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad who accused France of sponsoring terrorism.

"On the military front, we have a priority which is war against Daesh (Islamic State) and that's why his (Assad's) statements are unacceptable because if there is someone that has fought and can defeat Daesh... it is the international coalition," said Macron at a joint press meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

"All the others had ambiguities. All the others had priorities. It was to strike their opponents, not to strike the terrorists. We have been consistent from the beginning because we have an enemy which is Daesh," he added.

In 2015, France joined a U.S.-led coalition to combat the terrorist group in Syria.

During a television interview, Macron on Sunday expected the international military offensive would meet its target of liberating Syrian territories from the terrorist group by the middle of February 2018.

On Monday, al-Assad said, "France spearheaded supports for terrorism... those who support terrorism have no right to talk about peace," referring to Macron's initiative for peace talks involving all rival Syrian parties.

His remarks came after Macron said that it was "necessary" to speak with the Syrian government to build peace in the country "even if (Bahar al-Assad) has to answer for his crimes".

Breaking out in 2011 and then quickly turned into a full-fledged war, the Syrian armed conflict has entered into its seventh year. So far UN figures showed that the Syria war has killed more than 330,000 people and displaced millions.

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