US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis – Jacquelyn Martin / AP / SIPA
Summit meeting this week. US Defense Minister Jim Mattis travels to Paris on Tuesday to discuss anti-terrorism with French President Emmanuel Macron and
the Minister of Armies Florence Parly, including the French military presence in Syria.
During this brief one-day visit on Tuesday, the first in France for Mattis since he took office as Defense Secretary in early 2017, the Pentagon chief "will thank France and congratulate her on anti-terrorism campaigns. well conducted in West Africa and the Levant, "told AFP Sunday a spokesman for the Pentagon, Eric Pahon.
Syria at the center of discussions
At a time when the Syrian regime is asking US, Turkish and French military forces to leave Syria "immediately", Washington hopes that Paris will maintain special forces in the north of the country controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces ( FDS), allied with the international anti-jihadist coalition.
"We will stay in Syria as long as necessary" so that the Islamic State (IS) group can not re-locate there, the US spokesman said. "The coalition will stay in Syria and it is the coalition that will decide whether France, Germany or another country will stay there," he said. But France "is one of the few member countries of the coalition to assist us in Syria. We hope that she will stay there.
France is taking part in the fight against Daesh in Iraq and Syria within the US-led international coalition, with fighter planes, artillery and special forces advising Kurdish fighters.
Special forces engaged in Syria
No figures were given on these special forces, whose presence itself on the ground is only rarely recognized by the French authorities. But last April, Mattis revealed that "the French have reinforced us in Syria with special forces in the last two weeks."
The head of Syrian diplomacy, Walid Moualem, on Saturday demanded the departure of the French, American and Turkish troops from Syrian territory, denouncing an "illegitimate international coalition led by the United States", deployed in Syria "under the pretext to fight terrorism ". After Paris, Jim Mattis will participate Wednesday and Thursday in Brussels in a ministerial meeting of NATO.