2017 was been a successful year for the Global Coalition To Defeat ISIS, and conversely, a bad one for the terrorist group. Both of its so-called capitals were liberated, it no longer controls any territory in Iraq, and the group’s self-proclaimed, fraudulent caliphate has crumbled.
In a year-end briefing, the U.S. Special Presidential Envoy to the Global Coalition congratulated the Government of Iraq on last year’s full liberation of Iraqi territory from ISIS control.“The difficulty of this achievement cannot be overstated, and was a direct result of the strong leadership of Prime Minister Abadi and the heroic efforts of the Iraqi Security Forces and the Kurdish Peshmerga, many of whom lost their lives fighting ISIS on behalf of us all,” said Special Envoy McGurk.
Syria also saw significant progress. With the help of the Coalition, and at the high cost of about 1,000 casualties, the Syrian Democratic Forces liberated some 50,000 square kilometers from ISIS. Now, we continue to support the Syrian Democratic Forces as they engage in ejecting ISIS from its last strongholds in the Middle Euphrates River Valley, said Mr. McGurk. “We anticipate these operations will continue over the first quarter of 2018.”
Indeed, the battle against ISIS will continue unabated in the new year, but the priorities will shift. In Mosul, “today we have about 500 stabilization projects ongoing, and we are still working very closely with our coalition to make sure that we have adequate resources for that,” said Mr. McGurk.
And in Syria, stabilization efforts have also picked up pace and are underway in liberated areas. “The United States is prepared to remain in Syria until we are certain that ISIS is defeated, stabilization efforts can be sustained… Our aim is to enable the return of Syrians displaced by ISIS and to help local citizens take charge of their areas as we work on a national settlement in Geneva,” said Special Envoy McGurk.
“We enter 2018 knowing that we must continue working side-by-side – Coalition partners, international organizations, law enforcement agencies, and the private sector – to sustain our progress. It is our collective aim as a Global Coalition to pressure and suffocate ISIS wherever it may seek to emerge, raise funds, or send operatives across borders.”