EU must take back IS fighters: US

Updated: Feb 18, 2019, 10:17 IST | Agencies |

US President Trump wants European countries to take back over 800 IS fighters captured by US forces in Syria and put them on trial, failing which "the US would be forced to release them"

The Islamic State which once controlled a large part of Iraq and Syria, has suffered many defeats in the recent past. Pic/AFP
The Islamic State which once controlled a large part of Iraq and Syria, has suffered many defeats in the recent past. Pic/AFP

President Donald Trump has demanded that the European nations take back more than 800 ISIS fighters captured in Syria and put them on trial, warning that the US otherwise will be forced to free the jihadists after it pulls out from the war-torn country.

President Trump surprised the world by announcing in December that he was withdrawing 2,000 American troops from the war-torn Syria. He also warned the Islamic State (IS) that America would hit them hard from nearby military bases if the terror outfit regains momentum.

US-backed fighters are set to capture IS' last tiny stronghold in Syria, bringing an end to its self-declared caliphate. "The United States is asking Britain, France, Germany and other European allies to take back over 800 IS fighters that we captured in Syria and put them on trial. The Caliphate is ready to fall. The alternative is not a good one in that we will be forced to release them," Trump said on Saturday.

Donald Trump
Donald Trump

President Trump warned that IS fighters could "permeate Europe" and called on European nations to "step up" efforts to put the prisoners on trial in their countries. IS, which once controlled huge swatches of land in Iraq and Syria, suffered crippling defeats in 2017 when Iraq recaptured Mosul and the Syrian Democratic Forces seized its Syrian capital of Raqqa, and the Syrian government pushed it east to the Euphrates. The US forces' pull-out of Syria has raised questions over the fate of the US' Kurdish allies vulnerable to an attack from Turkey.

No. of American troops to be withdrawn from Syria

'IS holding 1,000 civilians in Syria'
Islamic State militants are preventing more than 1,000 civilians from leaving a tiny area still held by the extremist group in a village in eastern Syria, a spokesman for the US-backed Syrian militia fighting the group said on Sunday. "Regrettably, Daesh have closed all the roads," Mustafa Bali, a spokesman for the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces. SDF officials have said the extremists are hiding among civilians in a tented village and using a network of caves and tunnels. IS, which once ruled a proto-state in large parts of Syria and Iraq, is clinging to an area less than a square kilometre in the village of Baghouz, in eastern Syria.

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