President Donald Trump on Monday downplayed the reported escape of Islamic State prisoners that he said could be “easily recaptured” in Northern Syria.
The President was defending his decision to withdraw U.S. forces from a region of Northern Syria held by Kurdish-led forces, who were U.S. partners on the ground in fight against the Islamic State (IS) and now face military aggression from Turkey.
….Kurds may be releasing some to get us involved. Easily recaptured by Turkey or European Nations from where many came, but they should move quickly. Big sanctions on Turkey coming! Do people really think we should go to war with NATO Member Turkey? Never ending wars will end!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 14, 2019
Following a call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan a week ago on Sunday, Trump announced that the United States would not act to prevent a Turkish incursion into Kurdish-held territory in North Syria.
“Kurds may be releasing some [IS prisoners] to get us involved,” Trump alleged Monday on Twitter.
Trump faced bipartisan criticism for the U.S. withdrawal, due to both the possibility that it would leave room for the resurgence of IS forces, and because many saw the move as a betrayal of Kurdish partners.
On “Fox & Friends” Monday morning, co-host Brian Kilmeade offered a pointed criticism of the President, saying the result of the U.S. withdrawal had “been worse than anyone could have imagined.”
“The President must realize he made a huge mistake,” Kildmeade said, adding: “I think the most disturbing thing is they say hundreds of ISIS fighters have gotten out and our quest to get the worst of the worst out before the Turks got there has failed.”
He appeared to be referring to reports that IS-affiliated detainees had escaped from detention in Kurdish-held territory amid the chaos of the American withdrawal and subsequent Turkish military activity.
The three-hour show returned to the Syria news multiple times Monday morning, with Kilmeade commenting at one point, “ISIS has a thousand prisoners running wild right now.”