• Trump says proceeds from Iraqi oil fields could be used to pay for veterans’ services
  • He is currently the Republican party frontrunner by a significant margin
  • Trump has 25 per cent support among likely Republican voters

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has said the US should send ground troops into Iraq to fight the jihadist group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (Isis) and seize the oil fields that are under its control.

“I want to take away their wealth…. Isis is taking over a lot of the oil in certain areas of Iraq,” he said on 16 August during an interview with US broadcast network NBC.

“You go and knock the hell out of the oil. Take back the oil. We take over the oil, which we should have done in the first place.”

“We’re going to have so much money. And what I want to do with the money that we make, which would be tremendous: I would take care of the soldiers that were killed. The families of the soldiers that were killed.”

When asked whether the Iraqis should be given back the seized oil fields, Trump signalled that US interests should be a priority.

“We can give them something, but we should definitely take back money for our soldiers…. I want their families to get something. Wounded warriors all over the place. They got nothing. And they can’t even say we had a victory.”

Speaking about Saudi Arabia, Trump said the Gulf nation should pay the US if it wants to see a continuation of the military protection that has been provided by Washington over recent decades.

“If it wasn’t for us they wouldn’t be there. They wouldn’t exist. They should pay us,” he said.

“We defend Saudi Arabia. We send our ships. We send our planes. Every time there’s a little ruckus, we send those ships and those planes. We get nothing. Why? They’re making a billion [dollars] a day. We get nothing. And this is the problem with the world,” he said.

Trump said that in the past it was in the interest of the US to defend Saudi Arabia, because it needed to secure access to its oil, but that is no longer the case.

“Due to the oil revolution and fracking and all of the different technologies that are coming about with the oil, I think that certainly we don’t have the same motive that we used to have,” he said.

Trump is currently the Republican party frontrunner by a significant margin.

A poll released by US-based Fox News on Sunday found he had 25 per cent support among likely Republican voters.

Trump’s closest rivals are retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, with 12 per cent, and Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who has 10 per cent.

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