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Tillerson: Islamic State Yet To Suffer 'Enduring Defeat'

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (file photo)
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (file photo)

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has called on members of the U.S.-led coalition fighting against the extremist group Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and Syria to commit to the complete defeat of the militants.

"The end of major combat operations does not mean we have achieved the enduring defeat" of the IS group, Tillerson told a gathering of members of the coalition in Kuwait on February 13.

He said that IS fighters had lost most of the area they once controlled in Syria and Iraq, but he added that the militia "remains a serious threat to the stability of the region, our homelands, and other parts of the globe."

In Iraq and Syria, the extremist group was "attempting to morph into an insurgency," he said, adding that "in places like Afghanistan, the Philippines, Libya, West Africa, and others it is trying to carve out and secure safe havens."

Tillerson also said Washington had decided to provide $200 million of aid to stabilize liberated areas in Syria and that the United State will continue training local forces in the war-torn country.

More than 70 countries have joined the coalition formed in 2014 after IS fighters took over large swaths of territories in Iraq and Syria.

Also on February 13, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said that the military alliance was ready expand its training mission in Iraq.

Stoltenberg said that he expected NATO defense ministers to agree to start planning for a bigger mission at their meeting in Brussels on February 14-15, with a final decision expected at an alliance summit July.

"Years of experience from Afghanistan have taught us that strengthening local forces is one of our best tools in the fight against terrorism," the NATO chief added.

The NATO Training Mission-Iraq was established in 2004 to help the country create effective security forces. The mission has trained more than 5,000 Iraqi military personnel and 10,000 police officers, according to the alliance.

With reporting by Rikard Jozwiak in Brussels, dpa, and Reuters