Donald Trump, on Saturday, said that the United States would be “forced” to release 800 captured ISIS fighters into Europe, unless America’s European allies “step up” and take the prisoners themselves, Britain’s Daily Mirror newspaper reported.
The ISIS prisoners are being held not by American troops, but by Kurds, in Kurdish prisons, according to the Washington Post. The issue of whether to allow ISIS fighters back into the United Kingdom has been a subject of British headlines this week, after 19-year-old pregnant “ISIS bride” Shamima Begum, who fled her U.K. home to join ISIS in Syria four years ago, asked to go home to bear her child, according to the Guardian.
In his address announcing a “national emergency” over illegal crossings on the southern U.S. border on Friday, Trump veered off topic to declare that “the eradication of the caliphate… will be announced over the next 24 hours,” referring to the territories in Syria and Iraq which ISIS had captured and held over the last several years, according to Yahoo! News.
But by early Sunday morning, no such announcement had been made.
In his Saturday night Twitter posts, Trump again stated that “The Caliphate is ready to fall.”
“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,” Trump wrote at about 11 p.m ET on Saturday on his Twitter account. “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.”
In his Twitter posts, Trump also appeared to criticize the United States’ European allies for not doing enough in the fight against ISIS.
“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 has had a lengthy history of criticizing U.S. allies, as ABC News has reported, with his targets including Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May, and others — including once labeling the European Union a “foe” of the United States in an interview.
About 800 ISIS fighters are currently held in Kurdish prisons, according to Bloomberg News. The prisoners hail from nearly 50 different countries, but like the U.K., most countries have balked at taking them back in. The U.S. itself is reportedly considering transferring some of the captives to the American facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.