US President Donald Trump has accused European countries of “not helping” to repatriate Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIL) fighters imprisoned in Syria, “even though this was very much done for their benefit”.
“We have 1,800 ISIS Prisoners taken hostage in our final battles to destroy 100% of the Caliphate in Syria. Decisions are now being made as to what to do with these dangerous prisoners,” the US leader wrote on Twitter. “European countries are not helping at all, even though this was very much done for their benefit. They are refusing to take back prisoners from their specific countries. Not good!”
Trump’s administration declared Syria free of IS control last month, and the US chief is now pushing for withdrawal of the country’s troops there. In February, he threatened to release 800 IS prisoners if EU countries like Britain, France and Germany refused to “step up and do the job” and pointed to the cost to the US of keeping IS fighters detained.
At the time he tweeted: “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. 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.”
The Guardian reported at the start of this month that Washington is in talks with Baghdad to transfer and try thousands of suspected IS militants –and their families– from Syrian prison camps. Iraq is seeking some $10 billion up front, it reported, and a further $1 billion per-year to process the prisoners.