US, allies seek ways to up pressure on Islamic State group

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson speaks Wednesday at the meeting of the Global Coalition on the Defeat of ISIS in Washington.

Coalition forces will nevertheless remain "where this fraudulent caliphate has existed in order to set the conditions for a full recovery from the tyranny of ISIS", referring to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, another name for Daesh.

Iraq's Prime Minister, Haider al-Abadi, said, "We are killing Daesh (ISIS)".

"This is the first time we have conducted an air movement, air assault, with the Syrian Arab Coalition and Syrian Democratic Forces", Col. Joseph Scrocca, a coalition public affairs officer, said.

The challenge for the Trump administration in Syria is that the United States could be a victim of its own success: by prosecuting the campaign against ISIS, the USA military is building out an American zone of control on the ground in a large area of eastern Syria. It also echoes comments that the administration of US President Donald Trump has made about North Atlantic Treaty Organisation - namely that the US is paying more than its fair share towards defence while other countries lag behind.

He called on the US-led coalition to increase intelligence-sharing both in their own countries and internationally. "We must defeat ISIS", Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told the gathered officials.

Ayrault said that top Trump officials told him they needed "a bit more time to consider their options" and that they would present them to the President in the next few weeks.

The top United States diplomat did not make clear where these zones were to be set up.

Potential options reportedly being considered by the Pentagon include deploying additional advisers to Iraq and Syria, enabling United States military personnel to accompany local forces near the front lines and delegating extra decision-making power to field commanders.

The anti-IS coalition led by the US will soon embark on a new phase in its efforts to defeat the terror group in Syria and Iraq, America's top diplomat said Wednesday.

And as US-led special forces and planes, along with Iraqi forces and local Syria militia groups close in on these prizes, talk is of tracking down the Islamic State's mysterious so-called "caliph".

Hours later, ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack, a tweet from its affiliated news agency, Amaq, calling the perpetrator a "soldier" of the ultra-violent terrorist group. Recounting a Tuesday conversation with the Iraqi leader, Senator Lindsey Graham said Abadi believed reconstruction of Anbar province as well as Mosul in Nineveh province would cost about $50 billion.

"To me, this is very similar", said Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders.

"We know military strength will stop ISIS on a battlefield but it is the combined strength of our coalition that will be the final blow to ISIS".

But such an accord would require a United States presence in both Iraq and Syria for some period of time, Ambassador Jeffrey says, as well as some degree of entente between the USA and regional power Iran - two prerequisites the Trump administration may not be ready to accept. Distracted by the fighting in western Syria, and the Syrian Arab Army's chronic manpower shortages, even with the support of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and its network of foreign, primarily Shia militias and the Russian military, the al-Assad government has ceded the operational freedom to the USA military to conduct counter-ISIS campaign throughout eastern Syria. No one expects any details of the Raqqa battle to be announced at the gathering, but analysts say important clues as to who will lead the fighting could come from the conference sidelines.

  • Leroy Wright