Anti-IS coalition to meet in Washington on November 14, US says

French-initiated meeting, which follows US pullout and jihadist group leader’s death, will ‘look at next steps’ to up coalition’s ‘presence in northeast Syria’

An American military convoy stops near the town of Tel Tamr, north Syria, October 20, 2019. (AP Photo/Baderkhan Ahmad)
An American military convoy stops near the town of Tel Tamr, north Syria, October 20, 2019. (AP Photo/Baderkhan Ahmad)

WASHINGTON — More than 30 nations fighting the Islamic State group will gather in Washington on November 14 in a French-initiated meeting as the United States pulls troops from Syria, a US official said Monday.

Ministers from nations in the coalition against the extremists will “look at the next steps to increase the coalition presence in northeast Syria,” the official told reporters on condition of anonymity.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian called for an urgent meeting of the coalition after US President Donald Trump told Turkey earlier this month that he withdrew some 1,000 troops from northeast Syria.

The US official cast the meeting as a way to seek more support from allies — a key priority for Trump, who often accuses US partners of being free-loaders.

“This is something President Trump has been working on, both to get troops on the ground, airplanes in the air and money flowing to stabilization in that area from our partners and allies who are in the coalition,” the official said.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian speaks during a joint press conference in Cairo, Egypt, September 17, 2019. (Maya Alleruzzo/AP)

The official noted pointedly that no European allies have stepped forward to send in troops to replace departing US forces.

The meeting announcement came after Trump on Sunday announced the killing of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in an attack in Syria led by US Special Forces.

Trump’s withdrawal has nonetheless alarmed European allies fearful of a resurgence of the intensely violent group, especially as Kurdish fighters abandoned by the United States had been guarding Islamic State prisoners.

The United States has said that more than 100 Islamic State prisoners have escaped in the chaos, as the United States withdrew and Turkey launched an incursion against the Kurdish fighters, whom Ankara links to separatists at home.

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