US Defense Secretary chairs anti-ISIS meeting

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U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on Thursday (February 16) chaired his first anti-ISIS coalition meeting in Brussels after a two-day meeting of NATO defence ministers.

With all 28 NATO allies taking part in the 66-nation anti-Islamic State coalition, the military alliance hosted the meeting, although it’s not formally part of the group.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg highlighted the coalition’s dedication to the collapse of the militant group.

“The defeat of ISIL is a global, generational challenge that requires a global generational response. This coalition has an unwavering commitment to see this fight to its conclusion,” Stoltenberg said.

Mattis warned it might take time before the group is taken down.

“This is not something that will be over with quickly but we certainly intend to accelerate this fight. One of the reasons we are here today is to lay this out to you,” Mattis said.

The U.S.-led coalition fighting Islamic State recently boosted last month support for its Syrian allies, supplying armoured vehicles for the first time as they prepare for a new phase in their campaign to capture Raqqa.

The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) alliance, which is dominated by the Kurdish YPG militia, is waging a campaign to capture Islamic State’s base of operations in Raqqa.

The U.S. strategy towards fighting Islamic State in Syria has generated tension with NATO ally Turkey, which views the YPG as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), a group that has waged a three-decade insurgency in southeast Turkey.

Trump, who pledged in his inaugural address to wipe Islamic State and like-minded groups “from the face of the Earth”, signed an executive order on January 28 asking the Pentagon, the joint chiefs of staff and other agencies to submit a preliminary plan on how to proceed within 30 days.



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