Pompeo: We'll keep fighting ISIS

United States will continue to lead the coalition against ISIS, Secretary of State assures allies.

Elad Benari ,

Mike Pompeo
Mike Pompeo

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo vowed on Thursday that the United States will keep fighting the Islamic State (ISIS) group, reassuring worried allies who convened in Washington.

"The United States will continue to lead the coalition and the world on this essential security effort," Pompeo said as he opened a day of talks in Washington, according to AFP.

Foreign ministers or other senior officials from 31 nations came to Washington for the meeting initiated by France after President Donald Trump stunned them last month by announcing a US troop withdrawal from Syria.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper later said that the US is mulling the possibility of maintaining a small ground presence near the oil fields in the area. Earlier this week, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mark Milley, estimated that the US would leave around 500-600 troops in Syria.

Pompeo did not dwell on Trump's decision in his remarks on Thursday, but said that US forces were positioned to "make sure ISIS will never get a second wind".

He highlighted the October 26 raid by US forces that killed the group's leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, as well as other leaders of the movement.

"Ask them if there's a deficit of American leadership in fighting ISIS," Pompeo said sarcastically.

Pompeo pressed for more commitment from European allies both to fund stabilization programs in Syria and take back their nationals who joined ISIS.

"Coalition members must take back the thousands of foreign terrorist fighters in custody and impose accountability for the atrocities they have perpetrated," Pompeo said, according to AFP.

He said of coalition partners, "We'll hold them to account".

Allies such as France and Britain have little desire to bring back extremists who are bent on creating mayhem at home and have moved to strip some of them of citizenship.

France instead has been working with neighboring Iraq on handling prosecution of foreign jihadists.