Belgium wants Daesh captives tried in Syria rather than Europe

Published 20.02.2019 00:07

European states continue to refuse U.S. President Donald Trump's offer to transfer hundreds of foreign Daesh terrorists captured in Syria to their home countries for trial.

The latest response to Trump's demand came from Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel on Monday. He said, "The foreign terrorists in Syria should be kept in the region and, if possible, judged there." Michel underlined that an international stance should be taken on foreign terrorists, adding that it was an option to establish a special court for them. He also added that he would like foreign terrorists detained in Syria, including Belgians, to be tried in the region and mentioned the possibility of creating an ad hoc international jurisdiction.

"The United States is asking Britain, France, Germany and other European allies to take back over 800 ISIS [Daesh] fighters that we captured in Syria and put them on trial," Trump tweeted late Saturday.

Trump's tweet received immediate reactions from all over Europe. Former Belgium Interior Minister Jan Jambon also commented on the issue, saying, "The best thing would be to leave them where they are and withdraw the Belgian nationality from those with dual nationality."

Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn asserted that a logical solution could only be reached through discussion. "We should not send a tweet randomly," Asselborn said in a statement on Monday.

Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto described the issue as "one of the greatest challenges." "Our major endeavor now should be not to allow them to come back to Europe," he said.

French Justice Minister Nicole Belloubet also said on Monday that the impending U.S. withdrawal made for a new geopolitical situation in the region, adding that there are no changes in her country's anti-terrorism policy.

France will examine the situation of the French citizens who enlisted in Daesh in Syria, and those who return to the country will be judged, she said.

In Syria and Iraq, there are believed to be some 500 Daesh terrorists from Belgium and 150 from France, with 50 people of French origin also in the People's Protection Units (YPG) terrorist group, the Syrian branch of the terrorist PKK.

In December, Trump made a surprise announcement that the U.S. would be withdrawing all troops from Syria, saying that Daesh had been defeated in the country.

Since then, no troops have been withdrawn, but last month the Pentagon confirmed additional troops were being sent to protect American forces and equipment as they prepare to leave.

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