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Macron walks back comments that he convinced Trump to stay in Syria

Macron outside the Elysee palace in Paris. Photo: Chesnot/Getty Images

French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday clarified his claim during a TV interview Sunday that he convinced President Trump to keep troops in Syria "long-term." He now says that he "never said" the U.S. and France should maintain a military presence in Syria, AP reports, adding that he believes the U.S. has realized that its responsibility in Syria is to address humanitarian crises and the fight against ISIS.

The backdrop: Macron's Sunday comments spurred pushback from the White House which put out a statement saying, "The U.S. mission has not changed — the President has been clear that he wants U.S. forces to come home as quickly as possible."

Haley Britzky 6 hours ago
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Extremist with ties to 9/11 captured by U.S.-backed Syrian forces

Fighters of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) stand guard on a rooftop.
Fighters of the Syrian Democratic Forces stand guard on a rooftop in Raqa on October 20, 2017. Photo: Bulent Kilic/AFP/Getty Images

Mohammed Haydar Zammar, a Syrian-born German extremist who is believed to have links to the 9/11 attacks, is being questioned by the Syrian Democratic Forces, NBC reported Wednesday, citing an AFP report, and CNN confirmed on Thursday.

Why it matters: Per CNN, Zammar "is believed to have recruited some of the perpetrators" for the 9/11 attacks. Zammar was "a well-known figure in the Muslim community (and to German and U.S. intelligence agencies by the late 1990s)," the 9/11 Commission Report stated, according to NBC. Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon told CNN that Zammar "was captured more than a month ago by SDF partners as part of their ongoing operations to defeat ISIS inside Syria."

Dave Lawler 9 hours ago
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Trump and Kim's summit of surprises

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Mike Pompeo's secret visit to Pyongyang is the latest in a series of dramatic events in the run-up to the summit between President Trump and Kim Jong-un. It’s almost certainly not the last.

The big picture: "Part of this is normal, but we've got a wacky situation here," says Jim Walsh, an international security expert at MIT who has taken part in previous negotiations with North Korea. When it comes time to present a "final package," he adds, "surprises won't fly."