US tells allies to do more to pressure ISIS

2017-03-22 21:02
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Washington - The United States on Wednesday urged coalition partners to step up efforts to defeat Islamic State militants as top officials from 68 nations gathered to assess the fight to retake Iraq's second largest city and advance on the extremists' self-declared Syrian capital.

"I recognise there are many pressing challenges in the Middle East, but defeating ISIS is the United States' number one goal in the region," Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told the coalition's first ministerial gathering since President Donald Trump took office.

"As we've said before, when everything is a priority, nothing is a priority. We must continue to keep our focus on the most urgent matter at hand," Tillerson said.

Reconstruction assistance

Tillerson and Defence Secretary Jim Mattis were hosting Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Ababi and foreign ministers from the coalition partners at the State Department to explore new ideas to expand the fight against ISIS in the Iraqi city of Mosul and ready the operation to push the militants from Raqqa, Syria.

They also are preparing for the group's defeat by lining up humanitarian and reconstruction assistance.

The meeting started amid the latest manifestation of the accelerating, US-guided military campaign. The Pentagon said it provided an airlift for Syrian fighters taking part in an offensive underway in Tabqa, west of Raqqa. A spokesperson said US military advisers are on the ground in the Tabqa area to help co-ordinate the operation, which aims to block ISIS fighters from western approaches to Raqqa.

Tillerson alluded to the intensified campaign, but said the Trump administration was still refining its strategy.


Read more on:    isis  |  donald trump  |  rex tillerson  |  us

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