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French military to continue Islamic State fight in Levant: Macron

French President Emmanuel Macron meets with paratroopers of the 11th Brigade of the Paratroopers of the Infantry before he delivers his 2019 New Year wishes to military forces at Toulouse-Francazal air base near Toulouse, France, January 17, 2019. Guillaume Horcajuelo/Pool via Reuters

PARIS (Reuters) - President Emmanuel Macron said on Thursday the death of four Americans in Syria this week showed that the battle against Islamic State militants would continue and he vowed that France would keep its troops in the region this year.

“The announced withdrawal of our American ally should not deflect us from our strategic objective to eradicate Daesh (Islamic State)”, Macron said in a speech in Toulouse to the armed forces.

Citing the death of 16 people, including four Americans, in a suicide bombing in Manbij, Syria, near the border with Turkey, Macron said the next few months would be decisive.

“We will remain militarily engaged in the Levant in the international coalition (...) over the coming year,” he said.

Reporting by John Irish; editing by Leigh Thomas