Donald Trump has said he meant it when he said Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are the 'co-founders' of DAESH, drawing renewed criticism on his leadership ability.
Republican US presidential nominee Donald Trump has defended his claim that President Barack Obama and Democratic rival Hillary Clinton are the "co-founders" of DAESH, sparking renewed criticism of his leadership ability.
In an interview on a radio programme, Trump said he meant what he said in his Wednesday's remarks. "I meant he (Obama) is the founder of ISIS (DAESH). I do. "
"He (Obama) was the most valuable player. I give him the most valuable player award. I give her, too, by the way, Hillary Clinton," Trump was quoted as saying by CNN.
Trump said, "the way he (Obama) got out of Iraq was the founding of ISIS".
Clinton rebuffed Trump's claims in a Twitter message, saying, "No. Barack Obama is not the founder of ISIS (DAESH)."
No, Barack Obama is not the founder of ISIS.— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) August 11, 2016
In a second tweet, Clinton said, "Anyone willing to sink so low, so often should never be allowed to serve as our Commander-in-Chief."
Anyone willing to sink so low, so often should never be allowed to serve as our Commander-in-Chief.— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) August 11, 2016
Hillary Clinton's White House campaign also termed Trump's remarks a "false claim."
"This is another example of Donald Trump trash-talking the United States," Clinton's senior policy adviser Jake Sullivan said in a statement.
"What's remarkable about Trump's comments is that once again he's echoing the talking points of Putin and our adversaries to attack American leaders and American interests, while failing to offer any serious plans to confront terrorism or make this country more secure," Sullivan said, referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
"ISIS (DAESH) is a solid GOP (Republican Party) message to show contrast with Hillary Clinton and the failures of the Obama-Clinton administration," said Alice Stewart, a Republican strategist who remains undecided about her party's presidential nominee.
"Trump should have simply said that the Obama administration's decision to pull all troops out of Iraq, with no stay-behind agreement, created a vacuum and allowed ISIS (DAESH) to metastasize. It's absurd for him to say that Obama and Clinton are founders of ISIS - and he can't blame the media for this," Stewart added.
In a letter, a group of about 70 Republicans, including five former members of Congress, called on the Republican National Committee to stop helping Trump in the wake of his recent remarks and instead focus on getting members of Congress re-elected.
"Trump's divisive and dangerous actions are not only a threat to our other candidates, but to our party and the nation," the letter stated.
In response, Trump said he would stop raising money for the Republican Party if it ends its help for his campaign.
Trump has previously criticised Clinton for supporting the Iraq War in 2003 while she was a US senator.
Trump frequently says, to contrast himself with Clinton, that he opposed the war - but in interviews before the invasion he did voice support.
Now, Trump is arguing that in trying to end the war and withdrawing US troops in 2011, Clinton, who was secretary of state at the time, and Obama created DAESH.
US CENTCOM distorted intel on DAESH fight: report
US Central Command (CENTCOM) has provided a more "positive depiction" of the fight against DAESH than realities on the ground in 2014 and 2015, an initial congressional report said Thursday.
A congressional Joint Task Force (JTF) described CENTCOM's analysis of the US efforts to train Iraqi forces and combat DAESH in Iraq and Syria from mid-2014 until mid-2015 as "manipulating" and causing "persistent problems" with personnel, including "leadership deficiencies".
"(This) resulted in widespread dissatisfaction among CENTCOM analysts who felt their superiors were distorting their products," the initial report's press release said.
CENTCOM is the US central command based in Florida, which runs the US military operations in the Middle East.