Blinken urges US allies not to drop their guard against Islamic State threats
Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday warned U.S. allies fighting the Islamic State group to not drop their guard against the extremist group.
Blinken — who met with the 83-member Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS in Rome — said that ISIS factions in Iraq and Syria “still aspire to conduct large-scale attacks,” even though they were defeated in 2017.
“Together, we must stay as committed to our stabilization goals as we did to our military campaign that resulted in victory on the battlefield,” he said, according to The Associated Press.
The United States, which on Sunday conducted airstrikes against Iran-backed militia groups near the Iraq-Syria border, is nearing the end of pulling most of its forces from Afghanistan by Sep. 11.
The withdrawal has many worried that the move could quickly lead to a vacuum for extremist groups to grow and thrive, much like in Iraq after U.S. forces largely pulled out of the country in 2011.
The coalition on Monday discussed current efforts to keep ISIS at bay in Iraq and Syria, where they still pose a threat, as well as in parts of Africa, where the extremist group is surging.
Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio, who led the gathering along with Blinken, said the coalition hopes to bolster areas ISIS has been pushed out of.
“We must step up the action taken by the coalition, increasing the areas in which we can operate,” said Di Maio.
He also pointed to an “alarming” surge in ISIS activity in Africa — notably in the Sahel, Mozambique and the Horn of Africa — and called for the coalition to create a way to deal with the ISIS threat on the continent.