Mattis calls for unity to preserve anti-IS coalition

US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis Friday called for strong collaboration of the 75-member Global Coalition to defeat so-called Islamic State (IS) to be preserved as the coalition transits from combat mission to stabilisation operation.

Addressing the meeting of Defence Ministers of the Coalition at NATO headquarters this afternoon, he said that in Kuwait in February “our foreign ministers signed the guiding principles of the coalition in recognition that ISIS (or IS) remains a serious threat to the stability to the region.

“Today we plan to follow those guiding principles in a joint statement highlighting our commitment to make efforts to confront ISIS globally,” he said.

“Since our last meeting in November all territory held by ISIS in Iraq have been liberated,” said Mattis.

In Syria, a little over 100 hours ago, our partner forces began the first of several offensives against one of the last remaining enclaves of the physical caliphate,” said the US official.

“Despite the success of last year, my message to you is that the fight is not over. We must deal with it as an enduring not a territorial defeat,” he said.

He said that without advancing the Geneva peace process in Syria, it would be a strategic blunder, “undercutting our diplomats and giving the terrorist the opportunity to recover.” On his part, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told the gathering that millions have been freed from oppression.

“And ISIS is a shadow of its former self. But we all know that ISIS has not yet been defeated. It continues to pose a deadly threat. So we must remain vigilant, agile and proactive. NATO has been at the forefront of the fight against terrorism for a long time, not least through our engagement in Afghanistan,” he said.

Kuwait’s first deputy prime minister and defence minister Sheikh Nasser Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah represented Kuwait at the meeting.

Source: Kuwait News Agency