Trump Tells EU States to Take Back 800 IS Fighters from Syria, or Let Them Loose
The US-backed mostly Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces are about to take the last main pocket of territory held by the Islamic State.
US President Donald Trump has urged a number of EU member states to receive back more than 800 fighters of the Islamic State caught by American allies in Syria to put them on trial, or risk letting them run free.
“[IS is] ready to fall and that the United States was asking European allies to take back more than 800 Islamic State fighters captured in Syria and put them on trial,” Trump said on Saturday.
“The United States is asking Britain, France, Germany and other European allies to take back over 800 ISIS fighters that we captured in Syria and put them on trial,” he said in a Tweet.
“The Caliphate is ready to fall. The alternative is not a good one in that we will be forced to release them…
“….The U.S. does not want to watch as these ISIS fighters permeate Europe, which is where they are expected to go. We do so much, and spend so much – Time for others to step up and do the job that they are so capable of doing. We are pulling back after 100% Caliphate victory!” the US President concluded.
A day earlier, on Friday, Trump had said there would be “great announcements” about Syria over the next 24 hours.
Trump’s comments came as the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces were about to conquer the last territory of the Islamic State, a small enclave on the Euphrates River, according to battle commander Jiya Furat, as cited by Reuters.
“In the coming few days, in a very short time, we will spread the good tidings to the world of the military end of Daesh,” Furat said referring to the Islamic State, whose last troops remain in the Baghouz village near the Syrian – Iraqi border.
Trump has pledged to withdraw US troops from Syria after the Islamic State’s defeat which has generated many unknowns about the fate the Syrian Kurds who made up the bulk of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces. The SDF has done the bulk of the ground fighting against the Islamic State with massive US air power support.
IS fighters still hold a pocket of territory in the Syrian desert, and supposedly have covert cells throughout Iraqi cities but their territorial rule is effectively deemed to be over.
The Islamic State was born in 2014 when its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi took advantage of chaos in both Syria and Iraq to declare himself a caliph seeking to unite all Muslim people and territories.
At its height, IS attracted thousands of international fighters, including radicalized youth from the Muslim communities in the Western European EU member states.
(Banner image: TV grab from France24)