Brett McGurk at Herzliya Conference
Brett McGurk at Herzliya Conference Gilad Kavalerchik

Brett McGurk, US President Donald Trump's Special Envoy for the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, addressed the Herzliya Conference Thursday.

McGurk's speech addressed the successes in the fight against ISIS in Syria. "By January 2017, only 50% of the fighting had been completed. Since then, Mosul has been liberated, more than 18,000 displaced persons have returned to their homes, and the UN is helping people there."

"The numbers show that the 7 million who lived under the Islamic state have already been freed, with 5 million of them freed in our accelerated operation."

"In recent days, our coalition attacks have killed more than 40 senior officials of the Islamic state, while the remaining senior officials have not had much time left," McGurk said, adding: "There is no doubt about the outcome. We are winning. These operations are backed by diplomacy when we focus on the day after."

He said that under President Trump, the US is committed to uprooting the Islamic state from Syria and to ensuring that the local forces can fortify the victories achieved so far. We will continue to work with Syria's neighbors, including Israel, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq, in order to fortify their borders against Da'ash [ISIS], and we want the civil war to end when minority rights in northeastern Syria are secured. "

He also referred to the Iranian presence in Syria. "Iran is taking advantage of the situation in Syria to realize its hegemonic ambitions in the region. As the war in Syria is coming to an end, Iran is trying to build itself in Syria and is using sophisticated weapons that pose a threat to Israel and its neighbors. We must not allow Iran to continue to realize its hegemonic aspirations in Syria."

He criticized Russia for defending Iran's military build-up in Syria. "The presence of the Iranians in Syria has nothing to do with the defense of Syrian sovereignty, when the Russians claim that this is the basis for their presence in Syria, and the Iranian actions are dragging Syria into a confrontation that will last for many years.

Regarding the Iranian attack on IDF bases on the Syrian border last night, he said that "if Iran uses this area of ​​Syria to establish its forces, it is making a mistake and Israel has the right to act so that this stage will not come. We must reach a diplomatic solution, but it is not yet clear whether this will succeed."