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Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro said while President Trump “caging kids on the border,” he is “effectively letting ISIS prisoners run free” in Syria.
“He has made a tremendous mistake, a total disaster in Syria,” Castro said.
Castro said, as president, he would work with allies to stop the military aggression. He said also supports stronger sanctions than those announced by the Trump administration.
Trump on Monday sought to project a harder line on Turkey as the country pushes further into northern Syria. Trump said he was applying harsh new sanctions on certain Turkish officials, and in a phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Trump “could not have been more firm” in expressing his displeasure at the incursion, according to Vice President Mike Pence, who updated reporters at the White House on Monday evening.
More context: In defending his decision to remove US troops from northern Syria, Trump echoed talking points from Turkish officials, suggesting that Kurdish forces might be purposely allowing ISIS detainees to escape camps and prisons.
US officials have told CNN there are no indications that the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces have intentionally released any of the 10,000-plus ISIS prisoners they guard. Due to the attack by Turkish forces on the SDF in northern Syrian, the Kurdish-led militia has had to remove troops guarding prisons and camps holding ISIS fighters and those displaced by the fight against ISIS.
Turkish warplanes and artillery have also repeatedly struck several detention camps, allowing the escape of several ISIS prisoners and 785 people connected to ISIS fighters, according to Kurdish authorities. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan suggested the reports were “disinformation,” designed to “provoke the US and Europe.”
US officials believe the SDF— who have lost 11,000 troops in the fight against ISIS — is unlikely to intentionally release any ISIS prisoners given the direct threat the terrorist group poses to Kurdish-held areas.