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McGurk on Clearing Out ISIS in Iraq and Syria


Residents who fled their homes due to fighting between Iraqi forces and Islamic State militants return to their village cleared by the Iraqi forces in western Mosul in Iraq, June 7, 2017.

The progress against ISIS in Iraq and Syria is significant, said Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS Brett McGurk.

The progress against ISIS in Iraq and Syria is significant, said Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS Brett McGurk.

So far, about 78,000 square kilometers have been liberated from ISIS control, and more than 4 million Iraqis and 2.3 million Syrians no longer live under the terror group.

In Iraq, about 2.1 million people have returned to their homes in areas that have been cleared of ISIS.

One-third of all of these gains have come in the last eight months and are in large part due to a change in policy under President Donald Trump who ordered an acceleration of the campaign.

"A lot of authorities were delegated downwards so that we could move faster and move more effectively, and I think that’s made a difference on the ground," said Mr. McGurk.

In Raqqa, ISIS is now down to about its last three neighborhoods in the north-central part of the city, and it is only a matter of time until the operation in Raqqa is finished. As soon as the military phase is completed, a very significant post-conflict stabilization humanitarian plan will be launched with about a hundred sites identified for immediate de-mining.

In Iraq, the battle in Mosul is over, and the stabilization phase has begun. More than a million people were internally displaced from Mosul as a result of the war. We’re now focused on returning people to their homes, said Mr. McGurk.

The United States has trained well over 100,000 Iraqi Security Forces and not a single Iraqi Security Force unit or Peshmerga unit that has fought ISIS with coalition training has lost a single battle. These forces are now able to conduct simultaneous operations across Iraq.

Diplomatically, there is a rapprochement underway between Iraq and Saudi Arabia. One border crossing has already been opened, and there is talk of opening a second.

Similarly with Jordan, a $1 billion-a-month in commerce route going from Amman to Baghdad has been reopened.

With ISIS on its heels and stabilization efforts well underway, the U.S. believes now is the time to press full speed ahead and finish the job.

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