CAIRO – US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Tuesday the Islamic State terror organization was not yet fully defeated and continued to pose a danger to the region, despite losing 98 percent of its territory in Iraq and Syria, in a speech broadcast on Kuwaiti state television.
Tillerson stressed that the US was working with its international coalition partners to reinforce military successes against IS, noting that it was necessary to secure liberated areas to avoid the terror group’s return.
Tillerson made his remarks at a meeting in Kuwait with foreign ministers from participating countries in the anti-IS coalition, held on the sidelines of a donor conference for the reconstruction of Iraq in the Kuwaiti capital.
Iraq’s government said Monday it would need an estimated $88.2 billion for reconstruction, according to the director general of Iraq’s planning ministry, Qusay Adulfattah, during the conference’s opening in Kuwait City.
The Iraqi government had announced the country’s total liberation from IS in December, but the terror organization still controls some pockets of territory in neighboring Syria.
Regarding Syria, Tillerson pledged that Washington is to offer $200 million to support efforts to stabilize the Arab country.
He said that the US will continue to support the militias with which Washington collaborates in Syria, referring to the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, stressing that his country is to ensure that these groups operate professionally.
Tillerson added that the US fully understands the security concerns of Turkey, which began a military offensive last month into Syria against US-backed Kurdish militias in the northern region of Afrin.
The secretary of state is scheduled to travel to Turkey in the coming days, as part of a Middle East tour that began Sunday night in Cairo and will also include stops in Jordan and Lebanon.