Take back captured Daesh fighters, Trump tells Europe

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President Trump warns EU allies that inaction on their part will force the US to release some 800 Daesh fighters. “The US does not want to watch as these … permeate Europe, which is where they are expected to go.”

US President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump walk to Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington. February 15, 2019.
US President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump walk to Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington. February 15, 2019. (Susan Walsh / AP)

European nations must take back hundreds of Daesh fighters captured in Syria, US President Donald Trump tweeted on late Saturday, after a delay in announcing what he said would be the end of the “caliphate.”

Trump shocked allies in December by declaring the pullout of roughly 2,000 US troops who had been backing local militias, led by YPG/PYD terrorists, in Syria against Daesh. The sole remaining territory held by Daesh is considered to be half a square kilometre (one-fifth of a square mile) in eastern Syria.

The pending US pullout set off a countdown for governments whose citizens, having joined Daesh, were captured by the US-backed militias.

“The Caliphate is ready to fall. The alternative is not a good one in that we will be forced to release them. The US does not want to watch as these ISIS fighters permeate Europe, which is where they are expected to go.”

Foreign Daesh members

Once the US-led coalition declares it has taken all Daesh territories in Syria, the White House is expected to withdraw American troops.

For about two weeks, the Trump administration has been pushing its allies to take their citizens who joined Daesh home, and the US said it was ready to help in the repatriation, but time has been running out.

Several countries, including France, that have chosen to leave the terror group members in the detention of US-backed forces now confront a diplomatic, legal, political and logistical puzzle.

“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!” Trump said in his late-Saturday tweets.

On Friday he said announcements on the fall of the so-called caliphate would be made “over the next 24 hours,” but that deadline came and went.

Trans-Atlantic rifts

Daesh declared a so-called “caliphate” in large parts of Syria and neighbouring Iraq in 2014, but have since lost all but a tiny patch of territory near the Iraqi border.

Trump’s Syria pullout has highlighted the deep trans-Atlantic rift that emerged under his presidency, and the differing views of the two sides were on display Saturday at a security conference in Munich.

A French government source criticized the Trump administration’s approach as “we’re leaving, you’re staying” and added: “They’re trying to manage the consequences of a hasty decision and making us carry the responsibility.”

Source: AFP
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