French hard-left presidential candidate, Jean-Luc Melenchon, speaks during a campaign rally in Marseille's Old Port, southern France, Sunday, April 9, 2017. The two-round presidential election is set for April 23 and May 7. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)

French candidate condemns 'criminal act' by US in Syria

April 09, 2017 - 1:00 pm

PARIS (AP) — French far-left presidential candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon has denounced U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to launch retaliatory missile strikes in Syria as a "criminal, irresponsible act."

Melenchon said in a campaign speech focusing on international issues Sunday that the U.S. missile attack on a Syrian air base was a "huge mistake" that would only increase tensions.

He says he wants France to pull out of NATO to avoid a confrontation with Russia.

Melenchon told a big crowd gathered in Marseille: "If you want peace, do not get the wrong ballot paper."

Polls suggest Melenchon and conservative candidate Francois Fillon are competing for third place in the April 23 first round of the presidential election.

The two top finishers will advance to a May 7 runoff.

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