Daesh yet to suffer enduring defeat: Tillerson


KUWAIT — The end of major combat operations against Daesh (the so-called IS) does not mean the United States and its allies have achieved an enduring defeat of the militant group, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Tuesday.

Tillerson, speaking at a meeting in Kuwait of the US-led global coalition against Daesh, also said Washington had decided to provide an additional $200 million of aid to stabilize liberated areas in Syria.

"The end of major combat operations does not mean we have achieved the enduring defeat of ISIS (Daesh)," he said.

"ISIS (Daesh) remains a serious threat to the stability of the region, our homelands, and other parts of the globe."

The hardline militants, who lost all territory they held in Iraq and are on the cusp of defeat in Syria, are trying to gain territory in other countries where they are active, he said, adding that "History must not be allowed to repeat itself elsewhere."

"In Iraq and Syria, ISIS is attempting to morph into an insurgency. In places like Afghanistan, the Philippines, Libya, West Africa, and others it is trying to carve out and secure safe havens."

Tillerson said he was concerned over recent events in northwest Syria, where Turkey launched an assault last month on a US-allied Kurdish militia it considers a threat on its southern border, adding that he was keenly aware of Turkey's "legitimate security concerns".

US urges help for Iraq, extends $3 billion credit line

The United States on Tuesday urged members of the coalition fighting Daesh to help rebuild Iraq or risk a reversal of the gains made against the group, and said it would extend to Baghdad a $3 billion credit line.

The United States leads the coalition and hopes that after a three-year fight to defeat the militants it can count largely on Gulf allies to shoulder the burden of rebuilding Iraq.

"If communities in Iraq and Syria cannot return to normal life, we risk the return of conditions that allowed ISIS (Daesh) to take and control vast territory," US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told a donors' conference for Iraq hosted by Kuwait.

"We must continue to clear unexploded remnants of war left behind by ISIS, enable hospitals to reopen, restore water and electricity services, and get boys and girls back in school."

Although the U.S. government was not expected to pledge direct financial aid at the conference, Tillerson said the official U.S. export credit agency, the Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM), would sign with Iraq's finance ministry on Tuesday a $3 billion memorandum of understanding "that will set a stage for future cooperation".

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, whose government puts the costs of reconstruction at more than $88 billion , said Iraq could not rebuild without outside help.

Iraq has published a list of some 157 projects for which it is seeking investment. Baghdad has said it is determined to tackle the red tape and corruption that hamper investment.

"Doing business in Iraq can be complicated, but the Iraqi market has vast potential," said Tillerson.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance was ready to answer a U.S. call for it to expand its small training mission in Iraq to support reconstruction. — Reuters