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Trump: Britain should take back Islamic State fighters

Sky News logo Sky News 17-02-2019 David Mercer, news reporter

Donald Trump has called on Britain and other European allies to take back more than 800 Islamic State fighters captured in Syria and put them on trial.

The US president said "the alternative is not a good one in that we will be forced to release them", with the terror group's caliphate in Iraq and Syria "ready to fall".

a group of people wearing military uniforms: Islamic State once controlled nearly a third of Iraq and Syria © Sky News Screen Grab Islamic State once controlled nearly a third of Iraq and Syria

He tweeted: "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's comments come after US vice president Mike Pence said the last mile of IS-controlled territory in Syria was being captured by American-backed forces.

His remarks also follow the case of British teenager Shamima Begum, who wants to return to the UK after running away to Syria to join IS as a schoolgirl.

Justice secretary David Gauke has conceded the government may not be able to stop the 19-year-old - who is heavily pregnant - from returning to the UK.

Donald Trump wearing a suit and tie: Donald Trump said the IS caliphate is 'ready to fall' © Getty Donald Trump said the IS caliphate is 'ready to fall'

He told Sky News: "Obviously we have to act within the powers that we have.

"It is the case we can't make people stateless."

However, Home Secretary Sajid Javid has warned he "will not hesitate" to prevent the return of Britons who travelled to join IS.

Mr Trump's decision to withdraw US troops from Syria has sparked widespread fears that it could lead to a resurgence of IS in the future.

At the height of the terrorists' power in 2014, the "death cult" controlled nearly a third of Iraq and Syria.

Ciya Furat, a commander with the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), told reporters on Saturday that IS fighters were contained to an area of 700 square metres in the village of Baghuz near the Iraqi border.

a person posing for the camera: IS bride Shamima Begum wants to return from Syria to the UK © Rex Features IS bride Shamima Begum wants to return from Syria to the UK

Thousands of civilians have been streaming out of Baghuz this week to escape the violence.

Activists and residents have warned that IS still has sleeper cells in Syria and Iraq and is laying the groundwork for an insurgency.

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