France to maintain participation in Syria, UK says ISIS remains a threat

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Britain has insisted “much remains to be done” in fighting the ISIS group in Syria, amid reports Thursday it was not given prior warning of President Donald Trump's decision to pull out US ground troops.

“The global coalition against ISIS has made huge progress,” said a government statement issued late Wednesday.

“Since military operations began, the coalition and its partners in Syria and Iraq have recaptured the vast majority of ISIS territory and important advances have been made in recent days in the last area of eastern Syria which ISIS has occupied.

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“But much remains to be done and we must not lose sight of the threat they pose. Even without territory, ISIS will remain a threat.” Junior defense minister Tobias Ellwood was more blunt, retweeting a message from Trump that the militants had been defeated in Syria with the words: “I strongly disagree.

“It has morphed into other forms of extremism and the threat is very much alive.” Trump declared on Wednesday that ISIS had been “beaten” in Syria and announced the pullout of American ground forces from the war-ravaged nation.

Syria ISIS ghouta douma. (AP)
Syria ISIS ghouta douma. (AP)

France to maintain participation

France will maintain its participation in the coalition fighting ISIS in Syria, government officials said Thursday after President Donald Trump surprised Washington’s allies by ordering US troops home.

“For now of course we remain in Syria,” France’s European Affairs Minister Nathalie Loiseau said on CNews television, adding "the fight against terrorism is not over.”

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“It’s true that the coalition has made significant progress in Syria, but this fight continues, and we will continue it,” she said. France has stationed fighter jets in Jordan and artillery along the Syrian border in Iraq as part of the US-led coalition, as well as an undisclosed number of special forces on the ground.

French Defense Minister Florence Parly said on Twitter Thursday that the group “has not been wiped of the map, nor have its roots.” “We must definitively defeat the last pockets of this terrorist organization,” she said.

Kurdish force

A Syria troop pullout announced by the White House could allow the ISIS to rebuild, the Kurdish-dominated force battling the militants on the ground warned on Thursday.

“It will have a negative impact on the counterterrorism campaign,” the Syrian Democratic Forces, the US-led coalition’s main military partner in the battle against ISIS, said in a statement.

The SDF, an alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters which has spearheaded the ground battle against the jihadists, warned a pullout would allow ISIS to regroup and launch a counterattack. “It will give terrorism... the momentum to recover and conduct a terrorist campaign in the region,” the statement said.

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