Trump promises to send back Syrian refugees, is just fine with Russia's bombing.

Trump on Syrian Refugees: “If I Win, They’re Going Back”

Trump on Syrian Refugees: “If I Win, They’re Going Back”

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Oct. 1 2015 10:28 AM

Trump on Syrian Refugees: “If I Win, They’re Going Back”

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Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a town hall event at Keene High School September 30, 2015.

Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images

GOP front-runner Donald Trump surprised many in early September when he said he reluctantly supported taking in more Syrian refugees “on a humanitarian basis,” a position at odds with many of his GOP rivals. His compassion didn’t last long. Now that the Obama administration actually is taking in more refugees, Trump thinks it’s a terrible idea.

Wednesday night, he told an audience in New Hampshire to heavy applause, "I'm putting the people on notice that are coming here from Syria as part of this mass migration, that if I win, if I win, they're going back."

Describing those coming to the U.S. as a "200,000-man army," he said, “listen, they could be ISIS.” He mused that, from the images he’s seen, “They're all men. And they're all strong-looking guys.”

Trump, who has praised Vladimir Putin before, also says he’s just fine with Russia’s airstrikes in Syria, and that he believes they are targeting ISIS despite evidence that so far, Russia’s strikes have been in areas where ISIS doesn’t operate. He also doesn’t seem that concerned that the Pentagon says Russia ignored agreements to keep channels of communication open, raising the risk of a clash between U.S. and Russian forces over Syrian territory.

Trump has also been repeating the view he expressed in the most recent debate that the best way to deal with Syria is to let them all kill each other. “Why don't you let those two fight for a little while? And take over the remnants? Right?” he said of ISIS and Bashar al-Assad, who don’t actually spend all that much time fighting each other. And even if they were fighting, that approach is more or less guaranteed to force more of those big strong Syrian guys to try to find somewhere else to live.  

Joshua Keating is a staff writer at Slate focusing on international affairs and author of the forthcoming book, Invisible Countries.