French President Emmanuel Macron did not mince words as he discussed ISIS with President Donald Trump at this week’s NATO summit in London, fact-checking his American counterpart as they met on the global stage.
In an apparent jab at Trump’s repeated and false claims that ISIS is defeated, Macron on Tuesday said: “I think, number 1 priority, because it’s not yet finished, is to get rid of ISIS and these terrorist groups. This is our number one priority. And it’s not yet done, I’m sorry to say that.”
As recently as October, Trump said the US has defeated “100% of the ISIS Caliphate.”
But the US military is engaged in ongoing operations against ISIS. The terror group has lost its territorial holdings, or so-called caliphate, but is estimated to still have up to 18,000 fighters in Iraq and Syria.
“We have captured 100% of the caliphate,” Trump reiterated on Tuesday, but acknowledged that the group is still active and emphasized that the US is working to prevent ISIS from regrouping.
Macron also corrected Trump on the subject of foreign ISIS fighters imprisoned in Syria.
“Many are from France, many from Germany, and many are from UK. They’re mostly from Europe, and some of the countries are agreeing. I have not spoken to the president about that,” Trump said.
Trump then turned to Macron and added: “Would you like some nice ISIS fighters? I can give them to you. You can take every one you want.”
Macron replied: “Let’s be serious: The very large numbers of fighters you have on the ground, are the fighters coming from Syria, from Iraq and the region.”
The French president conceded that there are foreign fighters from Europe who’ve joined ISIS, but added that they represent “a tiny minority of the overall problem we have in the region.”
This heated exchange came after Trump went after Macron earlier in the day for comments he made on NATO in an interview with The Economist last month. Macron had said NATO is experiencing a “brain death,” and was critical of Trump’s approach to the historic alliance.
“We find ourselves for the first time with an American president who doesn’t share our idea of the European project, and American policy is diverging from this project,” Macron said in the interview.
WATCH VIDEO BELOW:
In tense exchange over ISIS fighters, French Pres. Macron tells Pres. Trump, "The number one priority, because it's not yet finished, is to get rid of ISIS."
— ABC News (@ABC) December 3, 2019