Trump says potential ISIS escapees will 'be escaping to Europe'

President TrumpDonald John TrumpZuckerberg launches public defense of Facebook as attacks mount Trump leaning toward keeping a couple hundred troops in eastern Syria: report Warren says making Israel aid conditional on settlement building is 'on the table' MORE on Wednesday said he's not concerned about ISIS prisoners potentially escaping as the U.S. vacates northern Syria, claiming the escapees would end up Europe. 

Trump was asked in the Roosevelt Room of the White House about the potential threat of an ISIS resurgence, should its fighters escape once the U.S. leaves the region. 

"Well they’re going to be escaping to Europe. That’s where they want to go. They want to go back to their homes," Trump said.

"But Europe didn't want them from us," he added. "We could've given it to them. They could've had trials they could've had whatever they wanted. But as usual, it's not reciprocal."

 

 

The president's comments aligned with his detached tone about the potential toll of his decision to withdraw U.S. forces from northern Syria.

The White House announced Sunday night that it would remove its troops from that region. By Wednesday morning, Turkey had begun carrying out a military operation against Kurdish forces in northeastern Syria.

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The U.S. military relied on the Syrian Democratic Forces, which is led by the Kurds, as the local ground force fighting ISIS. But Ankara considers the Syrian Kurds terrorists who are an extension of a Kurdish insurgency within Turkey.

The Kurds are guarding roughly 12,000 captured ISIS fighters, further sparking fears that the prisoners will escape when their guards shift their focus to fighting Turkey and triggering a resurgence of the terrorist group.

U.S. lawmakers have overwhelmingly rebuked Trump for his decision, raising concerns that the U.S. shift in strategy will open the door for a slaughter of the Kurds.

But the president has been steadfast that it's time for the U.S. to halt its involvement in "endless wars," and he rejected that leaving the Kurdish allies to fend off Turkey would impair the country's ability to form future alliances.

"We are getting out of the endless wars. We have to do it," he said. "Eventually, someone was going to have to make the decision."

Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoGOP lawmaker: Trump administration 'playing checkers' in Syria while others are 'playing chess' Trump-Graham relationship tested by week of public sparring White House officials work to tamp down controversies after a tumultuous week MORE told PBS Newshour in an interview Wednesday that the U.S. would "work to make sure that ISIS doesn't have the Caliphate across a broad swath of Syria and Iraq," but would not specify whether the administration would be responsible for casualties resulting from its new strategy.