US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday urged allies to step up funding to defeat ISIS despite a budget crunch after the devastation of the coronavirus pandemic.
The US and Italy led a meeting of 31 nations on fighting the extremists, held virtually due to precautions to stop the virus.
A US raid last year killed the group’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, shortly after President Donald Trump declared the group that once ruled vast swathes of Syria and Iraq had been defeated on the battlefield.
“That said, our fight against ISIS continues, and will for the foreseeable future. We cannot rest,” Pompeo told the conference.
“We must continue to root out ISIS cells and networks and provide stabilization assistance to liberated areas in Iraq and Syria,” he said.
“It’s true that the pandemic is putting enormous pressure on all of our budgets, but we urge your nations to pledge toward our goal of more than $700 million for 2020,” he said.
Pompeo said that the US was committed to $100 million to support Iraq. Even as the extremists’ presence has dwindled in its former stronghold, alarm has grown over the ISIS’ influence in West Africa and Afghanistan.
The US blamed ISIS for a horrific attack last month at a maternity hospital in Kabul, saying the militants wanted to scuttle a nascent peace process between Afghanistan and the Kabul government.