Coalition against IS: no consensus found yet

At UN, coalition finds little consensus on how to fight extremism

Despite calls from Washington, allies refuse to repatriate citizens who joined the group

WASHINGTON – The United States and other members of the anti-terrorist coalition «Islamic State» failed to reach a consensus on what to do with captured foreign fighters, but confirmed their desire to defeat the terrorist group.

During almost a day-long talks in Washington, in which more than 30 of the 81 coalition members took part, the United States promised not to relinquish its leadership role in the fight against IS..

Despite this, American diplomats failed to convince coalition allies to repatriate some 2,000 militants who left their home countries to join the self-proclaimed caliphate..

«There is consensus that foreign fighters – serious problem, – State Department Counterterrorism Coordinator Nathan Sales told reporters after a ministerial meeting. – However, there is disagreement about how best to solve this problem.».

Many countries, especially European ones, reject calls to repatriate their citizens who have become militants. One of the frequently voiced objections – lack of adequate mechanisms in their legal systems to prosecute those accused of participating in IS activities in Syria or Iraq.

This has frustrated American officials, who have repeatedly warned that the longer captured fighters remain in makeshift prisons, the more likely they are at some point to flee and join the 14,000 IS fighters who continue to carry out terrorist activities in Syria and Iraq.

«It needs a clear understanding that it is necessary to repatriate them now, while it is possible, – noted Sales. – Today the situation (with foreign fighters) in Syria may seem relatively stable. But this is Syria. We all know that things can change instantly.».

US-backed forces in Syria liberated the last section of territory controlled by IS in March this year, ending the self-proclaimed caliphate. And at the end of last month, the United States announced the elimination of IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and his alleged successor, the official representative of the group, Abu Hassan al-Muhajir.

Coalition against IS: no consensus found yet

And yet, IS keeps afloat: large units of the group rally around the new caliph, Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi Kurashi.

US special envoy for Syria James Jeffrey insists the situation in northern Syria remains complex and unstable.

«Our success is at stake», – he told reporters at the end of the meeting, noting other factors of concern, including the instability caused by the Turkish military operation against the Syrian Kurds, who, along with the coalition, fought against IS.

However, Jeffrey assured that the coalition does not intend to allow differences and complications to distract it from the mission..

«We will not look to blame, but we will rally our ranks, maintain unity and continue to cooperate and work together to deal with these crises.», – he said.