President Donald Trump on Wednesday threatened to release “thousands” of Isis fighters held in Syria into France and Germany if their countries do not take back their citizens who went to join the terror organization.
Around 800 ISIS fighters of European origin are currently being detained in northern Syria by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, along with thousands of women and children, reports The Independent.
“We’re holding thousands of ISIS fighters right now. And Europe has to take them. And if Europe doesn’t take them, I’ll have no choice but to release them into the countries from which they came. Which is Germany and France and other places,” the president told reporters on Wednesday.
“We beat them. We captured them. We’ve got thousands of them, and now, as usual, our allies say, ‘Oh no, we don’t want them.’ Even though they came from France and Germany and other places,” Trump said.
“So we’re going to tell them, or we already told them, take these prisoners that we’ve captured because the United States is not going to put them in Guantanamo for the next 50 years and pay for it,” Trump warned.
The Trump administration has been pressuring EU governments to repatriate their citizens suspected of joining Isis, but most have been reluctant to do so, fearing they would present a security risk upon their return.
Trump threatens Europe. "We're holding thousands of ISIS fighters right now. And Europe has to take them. And if Europe doesn't take them, I'll have no choice but to release them into the countries from which they came. Which is Germany and France and other places." pic.twitter.com/iroBd7Txgo
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) August 21, 2019
Later, in a speech to a veterans group in Kentucky, Trump said that European allies “say to us, ‘Why don’t you hold them in Guantanamo Bay for 50 years and spend billions and billions of dollars holding them’.”
“And I’m saying, ‘No, you gotta take ‘em’,” Trump said.