Trump Downplays Reported Escape Of ‘Easily Recaptured’ Islamic State Prisoners

This picture taken on October 13, 2019 from the Turkish city of Ceylanpinar shows smoke rising from the Syrian border town of Ras al-Ain as fighting rages along the border on the fifth day of a Turkish offensive in S... This picture taken on October 13, 2019 from the Turkish city of Ceylanpinar shows smoke rising from the Syrian border town of Ras al-Ain as fighting rages along the border on the fifth day of a Turkish offensive in Syria against the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) that has provoked an international outcry and left dozens of civilians and fighters dead. - The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the capture of Tal Abyad today left the town of Ras al-Ain as the only other major target remaining in the initial phase of the five-day-old Turkish assault. (Photo by Ozan KOSE / AFP) (Photo by OZAN KOSE/AFP via Getty Images) MORE LESS
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October 14, 2019 12:02 p.m.
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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.

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.

Subsequently, amid news that Trump had ordered all U.S. forces out of Northern Syria, Kurdish forces announced a deal with Syrian President President Bashar al-Assad.

“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.”

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