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Trump: Europe must take ISIS prisoners or they'll be freed

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US President wants European allies to take back 800 captured militants

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump has demanded that European allies take back more than 800 Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) fighters captured in Syria and put them on trial.

"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," he said in a tweet.

"The Caliphate is ready to fall. The alternative is not a good one in that we will be forced to release them... The US does not want to watch as these ISIS fighters permeate Europe, which is where they are expected to go.

"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!"

Mr Trump has sworn to pull US forces from Syria after ISIS' territorial defeat, raising questions over the fate of Washington's Kurdish allies and Turkish involvement in north-east Syria.

US-backed fighters in Syria are poised to capture ISIS' last, tiny enclave on the Euphrates, the battle commander said on Saturday.


Commander Jiya Furat said the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) had cornered the remaining militants in Baghouz village near the Iraqi border.

"In the coming few days, in a very short time, we will spread the good tidings to the world of the military end of Daesh," he said, using the Arabic acronym for ISIS.

He was speaking after Mr Trump said last Friday that there would be "great announcements" about Syria over the next 24 hours.

As the SDF advanced under heavy US airstrikes in recent days, a stream of civilians fled the few square miles of hamlets and farmland that remain within ISIS' "caliphate", along with defeated militants trying to escape unnoticed.

Though ISIS fighters still hold out in a pocket of central Syria's remote desert, and have gone underground as sleeper cells in Iraqi cities, their territorial rule is, for now, almost over.

Most of the fighters left in Baghouz are foreigners, the SDF has said. All that remains, said Commander Furat, is an encircled pocket some 700 sq m. "Thousands of civilians are still trapped there as human shields," he said. - REUTERS