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U.S. Withdrawal Not 'End Of America's Fight' Against IS, Pompeo Tells Allies

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks at a gathering of foreign ministers aligned toward the defeat of Islamic State at the State Department in Washington on February 6.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has told allies that the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria is not "the end of America's fight" against the extremist group Islamic State (IS), which he said remained a dangerous threat.

"The fight is one we will continue to wage alongside you," Pompeo told officials from the 79-member Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS gathered in Washington on February 6.

The daylong meeting follows President Donald Trump's December announcement that he was withdrawing the 2,000-strong U.S. force from Syria.

Critics have said that a vacuum left by the departure of U.S. troops could result in a resurgence of the IS group and Al-Qaeda in Syria or neighboring Iraq.

In his opening remarks at the Washington meeting, Pompeo assured allies that the United States "will continue to lead" the fight against IS militants, but he also called on other countries to recommit to permanently defeating IS.

He also said that the drawdown in U.S. troops in Syria was "essentially a tactical change" and "not a change in the mission."

"It simply represents a new stage in an old fight," he added.

On February 5, the head of the U.S. military's Central Command, General Joseph Votel, warned that IS "retains leaders, fighters, facilitators, resources, and the profane ideology that fuels their efforts."

And a Defense Department watchdog report released on February 4 warned that IS could make a comeback within six to 12 months after the U.S. troops leave Syria and "regain limited territory."

Based on reporting by Reuters, AFP, and dpa