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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 17 December 2018

War over in Syria by the end of February: Macron

Bashar Al Assad will have a role in talks at the end of the conflict, French president says

French president Emmanuel Macron says ISIL will be defeated in Syria before the end of February. Etienne Laurent / Reuters
French president Emmanuel Macron says ISIL will be defeated in Syria before the end of February. Etienne Laurent / Reuters

The military campaign against ISIL in Syria should be completed before the end of February with discussions on the country's future involving Bashar Al Assad, French President Emmanuel Macron said.

"I think that by mid- to late February we will have won the war in Syria," Macron said in a broadcast interview.

France would push for peace talks involving all parties in the six-year-old Syrian conflict, including President Assad, Macron told France 2 television, promising "initiatives" early next year.

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He said that Assad could not be ignored in the aftermath of a military victory, according to the interview that aired Sunday.

"We have to talk to everybody, we have to talk to Bashar Al Assad and his representatives," the French leader said. "Afterwards, he must answer for his crimes before his people, before international justice."

Despite being a leading backer of the Syrian opposition, France has sought a more pragmatic approach to the Syrian conflict since the arrival of President Emmanuel Macron, saying that the departure of Assad was not a pre-condition for talks.

Assad's government has been backed by Russia and Iran. President Vladimir Putin last week announced a significant scaling back of Russian forces in Syria, saying their mission was largely complete.