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French defence minister in Jordan to visit troops fighting IS

Florence Parly is set to meet with Jordanian Prime Minister Omar al-Razzaz [Getty]

Date of publication: 1 January, 2019

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Florence Parly's last-minute trip to Jordan comes on the heels of US President Donald Trump's surprise decision in mid-December to pull out all 2,000 American troops stationed in Syria.

France's defence minister arrived in Jordan on Monday to visit troops battling the Islamic State group, showing Paris's determination to continue the fight after a shock US decision to withdraw from Syria.

After a stopover in Amman, where Florence Parly is set to meet with Jordanian Prime Minister Omar al-Razzaz, she is expected to visit the H5 airbase from which French fighter jets take off for sorties against the extremists.

The minister's last-minute trip to Jordan comes on the heels of US President Donald Trump's surprise decision in mid-December to pull out all 2,000 American troops stationed in Syria, saying "we've won" against IS.

Read also: US Senator: Trump vows to 'destroy' IS before troops leave Syria

"The impromptu announcement of the US withdrawal from (Syria) caused a lot of questions," Parly told reporters before landing.

France does not "fully share President Trump's analysis", she said, adding the extremists were "not quite finished".

"Our priority is to continue until the end."

After sweeping across swathes of Syria and Iraq in 2014, the so-called Islamic State group has been erased by multiple offensives, pushing them back to just a few holdouts in the Syrian desert.

In Syria, IS has been rolled back by separate offensives led by the country's army and an Arab-Kurdish alliance backed by the US-led coalition called the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

The SDF are currently battling to expel the group from their eastern holdout near Syria's border with Iraq.

Without the help of Washington, which carries out 90 percent of the coalition's strikes on IS, the French government has said it will be difficult to finish the extremists off for good.

"The United States plays a very important role as leader of the international coalition," said Parly, adding that it might not be "realistic or effective" to continue without Washington.

The French military has deployed 1,200 soldiers as part of the anti-IS efforts, via air operations, artillery, special forces in Syria and training for the Iraqi army.

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