As ISIL continues to lose territory and come under increasing pressure, ambassadors and ?senior diplomatic representatives from the 66-member Global Coalition to Counter ISIL gathered today for a plenary session at the State Department to review progress in the campaign, discuss further actions to defeat ISIL, and seek additional support for urgent humanitarian and immediate stabilization efforts in liberated areas.
Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL Brett McGurk opened the briefing by outlining the progress of the multidimensional campaign to pressure ISIL and degrade its global network across all civilian and military lines of effort. He highlighted the numerous fronts where the Coalition is working in conjunction with local forces to apply simultaneous pressure to defeat ISIL including, in Iraq, Fallujah, Hit, Haditha, Rutbah, and areas around Mosul, and in Syria around Manbij, Raqqa, and Marea, and in Libya around Sirte.
With support of the Coalition, local forces have now recaptured nearly 10,000 square kilometers ?in northeastern Syria and have retaken nearly 30,000 square kilometers in Iraq. This includes strategically significant territory such as severing key ISIL supply routes to Raqqa and Mosul and regaining control of the Baghdad-Amman highway, which can help reactivate the once $100 million in monthly trade with Jordan that was occurring before ISIL, and bring much needed economic resources to Anbar Province.
Special Presidential Envoy McGurk reviewed the contributions of Coalition members to this unprecedented effort. In the skies, twelve Coalition Partners have played a role in carrying out the nearly 13,000 air strikes against ISIL targets in Iraq and Syria. On the ground, seventeen Coalition partners have deployed personnel to advise, assist and/or training Iraq forces. Through these efforts in full coordination with the Government of Iraq, the Coalition has trained over 30,000 personnel, including Iraqi Army, Counterterrorism Service (CTS), Kurdish Peshmerga, police, tribal fighters, and border security forces.
He noted that, beyond significantly degrading ISIL militarily over the last year, ISIL’s financial and foreign terrorist fighter networks are under severe strain due to the coordinated efforts of our global Coalition. We have seen a significant reduction in the flow of foreign terrorist fighters entering Syria and Iraq each month, and its fighters are increasingly defecting and fleeing its ranks.
Financially, ISIL is under stress as it has been forced to cut its fighter salaries in half, and levy higher extortionist taxes on the populations under its control to alleviate economic shortfalls. Due to Coalition actions, ISIL’s oil production has been cut by approximately one-third since late 2015 and many of its cash storage sites have been destroyed, denying it access to hundreds of millions dollars of combined revenue and cash reserves. The Coalition is now prepared to further accelerate this economic pressure.
On messaging, he praised the work of fifteen Coalition partners who together share and coordinate the Coalition’s strategic messaging efforts to challenge ISIL’s propaganda online and in the media. He noted that the private sector has assisted Coalition governments in developing productive and effective measures to decrease objectionable content and accounts online while preserving free expression and exchange of ideas.
He also emphasized that a critical priority for the Coalition is to help communities in Iraq and Syria recover from the devastation ISIL has inflicted on them. According to the UN, more than 700,000 Iraqis have returned home to liberated areas over the last year, including over 95 percent of the population of Tikrit and more than 70,000 people in Ramadi, where stabilization efforts are working to keep pace with returns. The need for partners to support the Iraqi Government’s stabilization efforts is particularly important as Iraqi forces continue to reclaim additional population centers from ISIL. Thanks to generous contributions and pledges from nineteen Coalition partners, the UN’s fund for Immediate Stabilization (FFIS) now totals more than $100 million to support this important work, but much more is needed to help ensure liberated areas are stabilized after ISIL and humanitarian needs are addressed.
Significant progress has been made and ISIL is on the defensive but it remains resilient, dangerous, and the fight is far from over. As ISIL’s so-called “Caliphate” is degraded military, it will seek to continue suicide bombings and terrorist attacks. Today’s discussion made clear that the Coalition’s resolve is strong and ISIL’s use of terror only strengthens our determination to prevail.
Source: U.S. State Department