Iraq News

Coalition against ISIS to meet virtually amid virus



US army commander Jace Neuenschwander (L) welcomes Iraq Ninawa Operations Commander Maj. Gen. Noman Zubai and Iraq's Staff Maj. Gen. Mohammad Fadhel Abbas ahead of a handover ceremony at a base for the US-led coalition against ISIS on March 30th. [Zaid al-Obeidi/AFP]

Foreign ministers from nations fighting the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) will meet virtually next week to co-ordinate action as the coronavirus pandemic disrupts operations, the US announced Wednesday (May 27th).

Top diplomats from the 82-nation coalition will hold talks on June 4th to "discuss ways to keep continuous pressure on ISIS's remnants in Iraq and Syria and strengthen our collective approach to defeat ISIS's global ambitions", the State Department said.

The nations will also look to manage "the challenges the coalition faces due to the COVID-19 pandemic", it said in a statement.

The US, the host of the last ministerial meeting in November, is leading the virtual talks alongside Italy, which had hoped to hold a major counter-terrorism meeting before being hit hard by the pandemic.

President Donald Trump last year declared the defeat of ISIS, which once held vast swathes of land, as he moved to pull US troops out of Syria.

A raid in October by US special forces killed ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. But alarm has been growing over attacks by the extremists around the world including in Africa and Afghanistan.

The US blamed the group for a horrific attack earlier this month on a maternity hospital in Kabul, saying the militants wanted to scuttle a nascent peace process between Afghanistan and the Kabul government.

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