Trump: Germany, France must take back Islamic State fighters

Donald Trump

President Donald Trump speaks with reporters before departing on Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House, Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2019, in Washington. Trump is headed to Kentucky. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

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WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump challenged France, Germany and other countries on Wednesday to take back citizens captured fighting for the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq. Otherwise, he warned, the U.S. “will have no choice but to release them into the countries from which they came.”

Trump said the U.S. and its allies are holding “thousands” of Islamic State fighters after forcing the extremist group to abandon the last territory it held in Syria.

But the president told reporters at the White House that European countries need to take back their citizens who joined the extremist group and are now being held prisoner. He said the U.S. will not hold them at its base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, “for the next 50 years and pay for it.”

Trump signed an executive order shortly after taking office to keep open the detention center at Guantanamo, reversing an eight-year effort by President Barack Obama to shut it down. But no new detainees have been sent to the base in Cuba, where the U.S. still holds 40 men.

Ambassador James Jeffrey, the State Department envoy to the international coalition fighting the Islamic State group, and the president said earlier this month that there are about 2,500 fighters that the U.S. wants Europe to take.

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