Algerian foreign minister says region under threat after ISIS defeats

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Algerian Foreign Minister Abdelkader Messahel said Wednesday that North Africa is under threat from foreign fighters escaping ISIS defeats in Iraq and Syria.

Messahel spoke at a news conference in Cairo after a meeting with his Egyptian and Tunisian counterparts, Sameh Shoukry and Khemaies Jhinaoui, over Libya.

ISIS rose to prominence in the chaos of Syria’s conflict, which broke out in 2011 with protests against President Bashar al-Assad.

After its explosive rise in 2014 and conquest of vast swathes of territory in Syria and Iraq, ISIS established a “caliphate” that attracted thousands of foreign fighters.

But a string of losses this year have left the jihadists clinging on to pockets of territory in Iraq and Syria.

“The region is threatened... with the return of foreign fighters,” said Messahel. “The signs and reports say the return will be in our region.”

The ministers also met to discuss Libya in February in Tunisia and again in June in Algeria, as the three countries push for a solution in Libya.

The priority is “preserving Libya’s unity and stability and territorial integrity, and maintaining dialogue and Libyan political agreement as the sole basis for settling the Libyan crisis”, Egypt’s foreign ministry said in a statement.