President Trump speaks at foreign ministers of countries in the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS
Earlier, Secretary of State Pompeo addressed the meeting participants
US President Donald Trump spoke on Wednesday to the State Department meeting of foreign ministers of member countries of the US-led international coalition to fight the Islamic State.
The President recalled that relatively recently, IS militants controlled significant territories, and stressed that currently the territories previously controlled by the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq have been liberated by the US military and its partners, the Syrian Democratic Forces..
IS ‘caliphate’ has been defeated, tens of thousands of militants have been killed, and about five million civilians have been released, President Trump stated..
The President pointed to the importance of the information component in the fight against IS, especially on the Internet.
Noting that the fight against the “remnants of IS” is currently underway, Trump emphasized the threat posed by the latter..
At the same time, he linked the ongoing fight against Islamist terrorism with the problem of immigration security, and the latter with the security of national.
We are extremely tough on people who may be involved in Islamist terrorism, Trump said.
Earlier on Wednesday, Secretary of State Pompeo addressed the meeting participants.
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The head of the State Department said that considerable success has been achieved in the fight against IS, however, in Syria and Iraq, the terrorist group still poses a serious danger..
Pompeo stressed the need for the final defeat of IS, which would involve the elimination of all terrorist havens. However, he noted that as jihadist activities become more decentralized, the nature of the fight against IS is changing..
Pompeo assured colleagues that the United States is not abandoning its allies in the fight against IS, despite the planned withdrawal of American troops from Syria.
“This is just a new phase in an old struggle,” Pompeo said opening the meeting. – Reducing the contingent is essentially a change of tactics. This is not a mission change. We will continue this fight shoulder to shoulder with you “.
Meetings of the heads of the foreign affairs agencies of the coalition member countries are held annually. The last such meeting took place on July 12, 2018 in Brussels.
Last December, President Trump, to the surprise of many of Washington’s allies and partners and even some American military leaders, declared victory over ISIS and announced that some of the 2,000 American troops stationed in Syria would return home..
Subsequently, the White House and other senior US officials tried to make it clear that while the self-proclaimed caliphate is close to total collapse, the US realizes that the fight against the group itself is not over..
In his State of the Union address on Tuesday night, Trump noted progress in the fight against IS, but stressed that he intends to withdraw American troops from Syria..
“We have liberated virtually all of the territory from the hands of these bloodthirsty monsters,” Trump said in a speech to Congress. “Now, as we work with our allies to destroy the remnants of ISIS, it’s time to congratulate our brave warriors who fought in Syria on the return home.”.
However, when exactly American troops will leave Syria is not yet clear..
The Ministry of Defense confirms that, although some of the equipment has already been removed from Syria, plans for the withdrawal of troops are still being worked out with the support of allies and partners in the country, including the Syrian Democratic Forces..
US Middle East Commander General Joseph Votel, speaking at a Congressional hearing on Tuesday, said the withdrawal would be “deliberate”.
“There is no specific deadline for me to withdraw troops, and no specific conditions were imposed on me,” Votel said, adding that the United States and its allies should continue to put pressure on IS cells in Syria and other countries..
“If we don’t do this, they can rally again,” he warned..
US military and intelligence officials estimate that there are between 1,000 and 1,500 IS fighters in the Euphrates Valley, who still control a small swath of territory. While fighting in the area is expected to end within weeks, up to 30,000 more IS militants and supporters are scattered across Syria and Iraq. Some of them are part of active armed groups, others are sleeping cells, waiting for the moment to activate.
Just last month, the group claimed responsibility for an attempted attack on a US convoy in northern Syria and another attack in the Syrian city of Manbij, which killed four Americans and 15 others..
The Iraqi authorities are concerned about a series of attacks on their territory by small groups of IS militants. Some of them are under 16 years old.
“I call on all countries in the world to help Iraq fight the sleeping Daesh cells and restore stability to the country,” Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohammed al-Hakim said Wednesday, using the group’s Arabic name..
Although Iraq declared victory over IS more than a year ago, security forces continue to grapple with pockets of resistance across the country, sometimes with coalition air support..
The difficulties Baghdad faces in rebuilding areas previously under IS control are also worrying..
The coalition estimates that the restoration will require $ 350 million more than has already been allocated. Pompeo on Wednesday urged coalition members to back up their words with money and be prepared for new requests for financial assistance.
“We ask our coalition partners to seriously and quickly consider requests that will allow us to continue our efforts,” he said. “And these requests will come very soon.”.
The Iraqi Foreign Minister asked for additional assistance, but at the same time warned that the United States and other countries must follow “the basic principles of the coalition stay here, the most important of which are full respect for the territorial integrity of Iraq and conducting all operations with the knowledge of the government.”.
This is not the first such comment by the Iraqi authorities after Trump told CBS News last Sunday that he wants US troops to be present in Iraq to keep an eye on Iran..
The US authorities have repeatedly warned of Iran’s destabilizing activities in Syria and throughout the Middle East, but Baghdad insists that the US military presence in Iraq was the result of an agreement on the fight against terrorism, and tracking Tehran’s activities was not part of the terms of this agreement..
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