US envoy reassures fight for Mosul will continue after Trump

US Special envoy to the coalition battling the Islamic State Brett McGurk reassured Washington’s partners, during a meeting in Germany, that the battle against extreme Muslim organization would continue after President-elect Donald Trump takes office in January.  McGurk, US President Barack Obama’s envoy in the campaign against the Sunni Muslim militants, predicted a seamless transition of power to Trump despite the divisive US presidential election campaign. “One thing that really unites the Americans, united both candidates in the presidential campaign, unites the world, is this fight against Daesh (Islamic State). This is a threat to all of us, we have to prosecute this campaign in a very smart and effective way and I think that’s something that this global coalition’s really historic, unprecedented coalition – military, law enforcement, intelligence, counter-messaging, counter-propaganda, it just runs the gamut – and just today here in Germany for the past eight hours we have all the different working groups.” / “So I think this is something that will continue because it is just inherent and essential and a common denominator across all of these different countries. And despite other divisions in the world the fight against Daesh is something that really unites the world,” Mcgurk.

The US-led coalition has been carrying out air strikes against the group, which controls areas of Syria and northwest Iraq. During his election campaign, Trump called for tougher military action to destroy the Muslim militants. Meanwhile, McGurk defended the Obama administration’s approach, and said six months of training for 50,000 Kurdish, Iraqi and other forces were paying off in the twin offensives against the Islamic State strongholds of Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria. He said the coalition had planned carefully to protect civilians and prepare for the displacement of up to 700,000 of Mosul’s estimated population of around a million people. “So all of that planning, all the training that we’ve done as a coalition – we’ve trained 50,000 Iraqi army, Peshmerga, police and tribal fighters as a coalition, and those units are performing remarkably well, they’re performing heroically, they’re now in the city of Mosul clearing neighborhood by neighborhood. It is very difficult, it will take a long time, but the operation right now is on track and it’s on track because of the brave fighters on the ground, but also because [of] what we’ve done as a coalition to help them succeed,” added McGurk

McGurk also praised the efforts of Turkey to stop militants from crossing its border to join the ranks of the Islamic State. “Turkey did a very good job on its side of the border, but then moving into Syria and creating this buffer has really helped pin Daesh into Syria without any outlet now to the outside world. It’s very difficult for these foreign fighters to get into Syria. In 2014 there was about a thousand a month, in 2015 about 500 a month, today it’s really negligible. And even in their propaganda when Daesh says ‘come join our movement’, they’re not telling people to come to Syria anymore because it’s very hard to get into Syria and once they’re in Syria it’s almost impossible for them to get out,” concluded McGurk.