- Donald Trump has called on several European countries to allow IS fighters trapped in Syria to return to their European home countries.
- Germany, Denmark and the United Kingdom reacted cautiously to rejecting the demands.
- By contrast, France had already agreed in January to bring back 130 French IS fighters.
Several European countries have been reluctant to respond to demands from Washington and Syria to retrieve captured IS fighters to their European home countries. President Donald Trump called on European allies to take back some 800 captured IS fighters. Most of them had been captured by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). If Europe fails to meet the demands, the US would be forced to release the fighters, Trump tweeted during the night of Sunday. Kurdish fighters have also been criticizing for a long time that European states have so far not been prepared to take back their citizens.
The Foreign Office in Berlin said on Sunday that it was indeed aware of cases of German nationals, who should be in custody in northern Syria. However, own findings are not available. Consular assistance in Syria would not be possible after the closure of the German embassy in Damascus. About 270 German women and their children are still in the region of Syria and Iraq, said a spokeswoman for the Federal Ministry of the Interior.
France agreed in January to take back IS fighters
In Denmark, the request of US President Trump met with rejection. "These are some of the most dangerous people in the world, and we should not take them back," said Michael Aastrup Jensen, Foreign Affairs spokesman for Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen. The social democrat Spokeswoman for Social Affairs, Trine Bramsen, added that IS supporters must serve their sentences in the countries where they committed them.
There were also harsh shouts from Great Britain, where there is currently a discussion about the return wish of a 19-year-old who had joined the IS and is now stuck with a newborn in Syria. Interior Minister Sajid Javid had already expressed his opposition to the return of IS supporters before Trump's appeal: "My message is clear – if someone has supported terrorist organizations abroad, I will not hesitate to prevent his return." However, British Justice Minister David Gauke emphasized that there could be legal problems in refusing to return. People should not be stateless, he told Sky News.
Only France had already announced in January to take back 130 IS fighters. Defense Secretary Florence Parly warned in a guest post of the newspaper Le Parisien against abandoning the Kurdish forces after the withdrawal of the US in Syria. The West owe much to the Kurds.