Trump: Europe Won’t Help, and We’re Not Going to Hold Thousands of ISIS Fighters at Guantanamo Bay By Patrick Goodenough for CNS News
The United States for months has been urging European countries to repatriate captured ISIS fighters and their families from northeastern Syria, to no avail, and the U.S. is not about to incarcerate them in Guantanamo Bay, President Trump said on Monday.
“We’re not bringing 50, 60, 70 – or even 10,000 people to Guantanamo Bay in Cuba,” Trump told reporters at the White House. “We’re not going to be paying them for the next 50 years – or paying to take care of them for the next 50 years.”
He characterized the European response to Washington’s appeals as another example of allies taking advantage of the U.S., and treating it as a “sucker.”
Trump’s comments came after the White House announced a pullback of U.S. troops in the area, ahead of a planned Turkish military operation against Kurdish fighters who were U.S. allies in the campaign to defeat ISIS.
The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are dominated by fighters from the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), whom Turkey views as terrorists because of links to the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK) – a radical group which Turkey, as well as the U.S. and European Union, has designated a terrorist organization.
As Trump faced questions on the move, which is drawing strong criticism from many Democrats and Republicans, he recalled his campaign pledges to bring home U.S. troops from what were originally supposed to be limited military engagements.
He also expressed frustration about other countries’ reluctance to repatriate their citizens among the thousands of ISIS jihadists being held by the SDF, along with their family members, following the fall of the Sunni terrorist group’s so-called caliphate.
U.N. officials have put the number of captured fighters and families in the tens of thousands. Many are being housed at the Al-Hol displaced persons camp in northern Syria, where the population swelled from some 10,000 last January to around 73,000 by April.