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Europe mixed on Trump push to repatriate Daesh fighters

'It is certainly not as easy as they think in America,' says German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas

Nilay Kar   | 18.02.2019
Europe mixed on Trump push to repatriate Daesh fighters

By Yusuf Hatip

BRUSSELS

European states voiced concern on Monday on how to bring Daesh militants to trial after U.S. President Donald Trump demanded they take back and prosecute hundreds of foreign Daesh terrorists captured in Syria. 

"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 tweeted late Saturday. 

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told a press conference Trump’s demand would be "difficult to implement."

"It is certainly not as easy as they think in America," Maas said, adding that the former Daesh members could only be allowed into the country if it could be ensured that they were taken into custody immediately. 

Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn asserted that a logical solution could only be reached through discussion. 

"We should not send a tweet randomly," Asselborn said in a statement. 

‘Great challenges’

Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto described the issue as "one of the greatest challenges." 

"Our major endeavor now should be not to allow them to come back to Europe," he said.

Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said, "The foreign terrorists in Syria should be kept in the region and, if possible, judged there."

Michel said an international stance should be taken on foreign terrorists, adding that it was an option to establish a special court for them.

French Justice Minister Nicole Belloubet said the impending U.S. withdrawal made for a new geopolitical situation in the region, adding that there are no changes in her country's anti-terrorism policy.

France will examine the situation of the French citizens who enlisted in Daesh in Syria, and those who return to the country will be judged, she said.

In Syria and Iraq, there are believed to be some 500 Daesh terrorists from Belgium and 150 from France, with 50 people of French origin also in the terrorist group YPG, the Syrian branch of the terrorist PKK. 

In December, Trump made a surprise announcement that the U.S. would be withdrawing all troops from Syria, saying that Daesh had been defeated in the country. 

Since then, no troops have been withdrawn, but last month the Pentagon confirmed additional troops were being sent to protect American forces and equipment as they prepare to leave.

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