In the wake of the barbarous terrorist attacks by ISIL on Paris, Mali, Nigeria and elsewhere, the resolve of the United States and its allies to defeat ISIL has intensified. In a recent briefing, Brett McGurk, Special Presidential Envoy to the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL, explained how: “We’re going to suffocate the core, which is in Iraq and Syria; and we’re going to suffocate the global networks.”
What is driving many of these foreign fighters to join ISIL in Iraq and Syria is this notion of the caliphate announced by ISIL leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in the summer of 2014. So a primary goal, said Mr. McGurk, is to deprive ISIL of its territory.
The U.S.-led military coalition against ISIL has been stepping up its attacks against terrorist targets in both Syria and Iraq. U.S. planes are now targeting ISIL oil trucks, in addition to their leaders, oil fields, and territory.
On the ground, the U.S. is cooperating with local forces to launch a series of operations against ISIL. This effort has been quite successful, said Mr. McGurk, with the recapturing of the Syrian town of Al-Hawl and territory further south.
The Kurdish Peshmerga also played a critical role in recapturing the Iraqi city of Sinjar. The retaking of Sinjar is of particular strategic importance because it interrupts the highway 47 corridor that runs between Raqqa and Mosul. As Mr. McGurk put it, “We want to isolate [ISIL] in Raqqa; we want to isolate them in Mosul; and then continue to strangle and increase the pressure, that’s going to continue.”
In addition, U.S. Special Forces are already on the ground in Iraq and now in Syria to assist indigenous forces fighting ISIL.
With regard to defeating the global network of ISIL, there is a role to play for every country in the coalition. More than 40 countries have passed new laws aimed at halting the flow of foreign fighters. Some 34 countries have arrested foreign fighters or broken up cells and networks.
As Special Presidential Envoy McGurk said, “Make no mistake, we’re going to destroy this terrorist organization.”