Politics, Americas, Europe

Trump, France's Macron clash over Daesh/ISIS fighters

'Let's get serious,' French President says after Trump asks if he wants to take back 'some nice ISIS fighters'

Michael Hernandez   | 03.12.2019
Trump, France's Macron clash over Daesh/ISIS fighters File Photo ( Michele Tantussi - Anadolu Agency )

WASHINGTON

U.S. President Donald Trump clashed Tuesday with French President Emmanuel Macron over the repatriation of Daesh/ISIS terror group fighters currently held in northeastern Syria.

Speaking to reporters during a NATO leaders summit in London, Trump continued his criticism of Europe's reluctance to take back its nationals, saying foreign fighters detained in Syria "are mostly from Europe."

He then turned to Macron and asked if the French president would "like some nice ISIS fighters?"

"I can give them to you. You can take everyone you want," Trump said before Macron quickly rebuffed the U.S. president, saying "let's be serious."

"A very large number of fighters you have on the ground are fighters coming from Syria, Iraq and the region," Macron said. "It's true that you have foreign fighters coming from Europe, but this is a tiny minority of the overall problem that you have in the region."

Macron's words are backed by the U.S. assessment of the roughly 10,000 detained Daesh terrorists currently held in Syria.

James Jeffrey, Trump's envoy to the anti-Daesh coalition, said Aug. 1 that roughly 80% of the detained fighters are from Syria, or Iraq. The rest, he said, are from other countries, including some in Europe.

Trump later tempered his criticism following a lengthy pushback from Macron, acknowledging "France has actually taken back some fighters."

"But we have a lot of fighters. We captured a lot of people," he said, emphasizing the U.S.-led coalition's defeat of Daesh's territorial hold in Iraq and Syria.

Trump has long pushed for European nations to take back nationals, whether they fought for Daesh or were family members associated with the terror group. But Europe has been reluctant to heed the call amid security concerns tied to their repatriation.

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