Anti-ISIS coalition meets on countering extremist group's revival

Group committed to 'enduring defeat' of ISIS

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The global coalition against ISIS gathered on Wednesday in Morocco to co-ordinate efforts to prevent the extremists from staging a revival in the Middle East and North Africa.

Coalition members "reaffirmed their shared determination to continue the fight against ISIS through both military and civilian-led efforts contributing to the enduring defeat of the terrorist group", a joint statement from US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita read.

Mr Blinken was to co-host the meeting with Mr Bourita but he tested positive for Covid-19 and was replaced by senior diplomat Victoria Nuland.

Senior officials from dozens of other countries are also attending the meeting, which is taking place under high security at a luxury hotel in Marrakech.

Ms Nuland said the group was committed to the "enduring defeat" of ISIS.

"Over the last several years, ISIS has been considerably weakened in Iraq and Syria, but it remains a threat, seeking any opportunity to reconstitute itself," she said.

Mr Bourita said the threat posed by ISIS had "not diminished" and that the coalition sought to raise $700 million for "stabilisation activities" in parts of Iraq and Syria formerly held by the group.

The discussions were to cover "stabilisation efforts in areas previously impacted" by ISIS, strategic communication against the group's "radicalisation propaganda" and the battle against foreign fighters, the Moroccan foreign ministry said.

The meeting comes three years after the coalition helped Syrian fighters to crush the "caliphate" ISIS had proclaimed in Iraq and Syria and as the extremists step up their efforts to bolster their presence in the Sahel and West Africa.

"The ministers affirmed that ensuring the enduring defeat of ISIS in Iraq and Syria remains the number one priority for the Defeat ISIS Coalition," the joint statement read.

The Global Coalition against ISIS was formed in 2014 after the militants seized huge parts of Iraq and Syria. It now includes 84 states and international organisations.

Officials have long said that ISIS still poses a worldwide threat despite its loss of a territorial base.

In January, ISIS fighters launched their biggest assault in years - a prison break in the north-east Kurdish-controlled Syrian city of Hasakeh, sparking a week of intense fighting that left hundreds dead.

Ms Nuland called the attack "a reminder of their intent and a wake-up call about how untenable the current situation is in north-east Syria".

ISIS has vowed to take revenge for the death of its leader Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi, who blew himself up during a US raid in northern Syria in late 2019. It has also urged its supporters to take advantage of the war in Ukraine to carry out attacks in Europe.

AFP contributed reporting

Updated: May 11, 2022, 7:36 PM