At the Global Coalition Washington Ministerial on February 6, the U.S. Department of State wishes to reaffirm its commitment to the Coalition and its goals. The 79-member Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS has worked diligently since 2014 to reduce the threat ISIS poses to international security and our homelands. The Coalition’s combined efforts have diminished ISIS’ military capability, territorial control, leadership, financial resources, and online influence. Members are united in common cause to defeat ISIS through a robust approach, including working by, with, and through local partners for military operations; supporting the stabilization of territory liberated from ISIS; and enhancing international cooperation against ISIS’ global objectives through information sharing, law enforcement cooperation, severing ISIS’ financing, countering terrorist recruitment, and neutralizing ISIS’ narrative. The Coalition is also engaged in civilian efforts to provide needs based humanitarian aid assistance to communities suffering from displacement and conflict, and supporting stabilization efforts in territory liberated from ISIS.
The Global Coalition is the largest international coalition in history. It is a diverse group, in which each member makes unique contributions to a robust civilian and military effort.
The Military Campaign
Thirty-two Coalition partners contribute troops in Iraq and Syria in support of the effort to defeat ISIS. Working by, with, and through our local partners, the Coalition continues to destroy ISIS safe havens and builds in direct action against ISIS.
Coalition operations have liberated all of the terrain ISIS once controlled in Iraq and more than 99 percent in Syria, including key cities in both countries. Scores of ISIS leadership figures and nearly all of Baghdadi’s deputies have already been removed from the battlefield, to include ISIS’ so-called ministers of war, information, finance, oil and gas, and its chief external operations strategist and propagandist.
Coalition air assets have conducted more than 33,000 strikes on ISIS targets. Beyond top leaders, airstrikes have targeted military commanders, administration officials, foreign fighter facilitators, emirs, propaganda officials, and battlefield fighters. The Coalition remains committed to working hand-in-hand with the Government of Iraq to consolidate the gains made and ensure the permanent defeat of ISIS in its previously held territory. We remain united in a long-term, whole-of-government effort that includes international support to build regional stability, inclusive governance, humanitarian assistance, and economic recovery, while taking steps to address underlying issues that fuel local insurgencies. This helps ensure the long-term stability of Iraq. To date, Coalition efforts have trained more than 190,000 Iraqi Security Force members, including members of the Iraqi Army, Counterterrorism Service, Kurdish Peshmerga, Federal Police, Border Guards, and Sunni elements of the Popular Mobilization Forces.
With the support of the Coalition, our SDF partners have liberated more than 99% of ISIS’ previously held territory in Syria. As part of these efforts in Syria, the Coalition has helped train Syrians of diverse backgrounds who have joined the fight to defeat ISIS.
The Civilian Effort: Stabilization, Humanitarian, and Economic Assistance
Since 2014, Coalition members have provided over $20 billion in stabilization assistance, demining capabilities, economic support, and humanitarian assistance in Iraq and Syria – all of which guards against a resurgence of ISIS. To date, partners have pledged over $1 billion in stabilization programming in Iraq and an additional $300 million for stabilization assistance in northeast Syria, which is key to securing military gains, integral to stabilizing liberated terrain, and developing systems that can mitigate the drivers of extremism.
Support for stabilization efforts is a strategic investment in the fight against ISIS. In Iraq, we have pioneered a new model of stabilization in partnership with the Government of Iraq and the UN. As a result of this support, following liberation from ISIS, we have prioritized clearing explosive remnants of war (ERW), including deadly improvised explosive devices (IEDs), and quick-impact projects to return civilians to their homes. Local partners in Iraq are holding ground against ISIS, restoring services, clearing schools and clinics of unexploded ordinance, helping families return home, providing security, and contributing to re-establishing the rule of law in liberated areas. This is an enormous challenge but essential to repairing the damage caused by ISIS.
Since late 2015, the Global Coalition has contributed over $368 million to clear ERW, deliver risk education, and build local ERW-related capacity in Iraq through U.S. assistance, the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS), and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs). This support has facilitated the clearance of more than 130,000 explosive hazards across Iraq from more than 2,500 sites associated with the delivery of social services, transportation, agricultural development, commerce, and housing.
Twenty-seven partners from the U.S.-led Global Coalition have committed over $1 billion to the UNDP’s Funding Facility for Stabilization (FFS), including Germany’s pledge in October 2018 of over $100 million. From this fund, the UNDP has in planning, begun, or already completed over 3,100 stabilization projects in 31 liberated areas, helping to facilitate the return of nearly 4.2 million displaced Iraqis. According to the UN, FFS projects have given at least 780,000 people improved access to healthcare, 1.2 million have improved access to clean water, and 1.6 million people with improved access to reliable electricity.
The Global Coalition is helping Iraq’s local government make their cities safer while working for the local population. We are helping to clear neighborhoods of mines and remnants of war, restore basic municipal services like electricity, water, education and health care. We are creating conditions for local economies to recover and for Iraqis displaced by the conflict to safely and voluntarily return home. As part of our overall stabilization efforts, five Coalition partners have joined an Italian-led effort to train more than 25,000 Iraqi police to date in advanced investigative techniques. It is vital to Iraq’s recovery to have a properly trained and equipped civilian police capable to ensure public order and security, and maintain confidence with the population in liberated areas.
Our stabilization programming is addressing immediate needs. For stabilization to have a lasting effect, it has to be followed by reconstruction. The international community pledged $30 billion in grants, loans, and other financing for Iraq’s reconstruction during the Government of Kuwait hosted Iraq Reconstruction Conference in February 2018 that brought together the donor community, civil society, and the private sector to help Iraq address its significant reconstruction needs.
Since April 2018, the Department has elicited more than $325 million in contributions and pledges from 15 Coalition partners to support critical stabilization and early recovery initiatives in areas liberated from ISIS in northeast Syria, including generous contributions of $100 million by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and $50 million from the United Arab Emirates. The United States is also the largest single country humanitarian donor to the people of Syria, providing more than $9.1 billion in humanitarian assistance since the start of the crisis for those in need of assistance inside Syria and the region.
The Global Coalition has contributed over $100 million for ERW clearance in northeast Syria since 2017, clearing more than 25,500 explosive hazards from 24.5 million square meters of territory in Manbij, Tabqa, and Raqqa; as well as training over 300 Syrian nationals to international standards. To date, our focus has been on critical infrastructure, clearing sites such as schools, hospitals, electrical grid facilities, and water pumping stations to facilitate restoration of critical services. We have cleared over 650 sites in urban areas liberated from ISIS, mainly Raqqa and Tabqa cities.
With Coalition support the USG conducted stabilization activities in towns, villages, and IDP camps throughout Raqqa and Deir Ez-Zour governorates. In coordination with local governance entities, the Coalition supported the refurbishment of the Tabqa Hospital, where more than 500,000 people can now access emergency and maternal care, the rehabilitation of over 75 schools and the creation of 11 children’s centers across Raqqa governorate enabling more than 100,000 children to return to school. Coalition support continues to rehabilitate vital water, electrical, health, agricultural, and educational infrastructure throughout northeast Syria.
Coalition-funded stabilization programming in northeast Syria will continue to support the broader mission. We will continue to support international efforts to restore basic essential services and remove explosive hazards in areas liberated from ISIS, which can help enable the safe and voluntary return of internally displaced people. We will also continue to lead in providing life-saving needs based humanitarian assistance to people inside and outside Syria.
We value and thank our partners who have worked with us on the ground, and will continue to work with them on stabilization efforts in northeast Syria. There is still much work that needs to be done to help those liberated from ISIS to recover, and to prevent the return of ISIS. We also appreciate the contributions and continued commitment from our international partners in the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS; stabilization assistance is critical to ensuring ISIS’s lasting defeat.
Building resistance to terrorist propaganda and countering terrorist use of the internet is vital to our effort. ISIS is increasingly struggling in the face of an organized and sophisticated set of counter measures by the Coalition.
Global Coalition member countries are producing national responses and coordinating counter ISIS communications efforts regionally and globally. The Coalition’s Communications Working Group (co-led by the UAE, UK, and U.S.) regularly convenes meetings between member countries and academics, civil society, media, and tech companies to share information and strategies to counter terrorist messages online and offline, and present positive alternative narratives.
The Communications Working Group also supports a network of messaging centers that expose, refute, and combat online terrorist propaganda. These centers harness the creativity and expertise of local actors to generate positive content that challenges the nihilistic vision of ISIS and its supporters. The Defeat-ISIS Communications Cell in London and the Sawab Center in Abu Dhabi lead the Coalition’s efforts to tackle ISIS propaganda.
The Global Coalition is actively engaged with the private sector in these efforts. For example, the Global Engagement Center, an interagency entity based within the U.S. Department of State, uses online technology to target potential recruits of terrorist organizations and redirect them to counter-ISIS content. Since August 2015, Twitter has suspended more than 1.2 million terrorist- related or affiliated accounts that have been shown to abuse their platforms. Collectively, we are making it increasingly difficult for ISIS to spread its poisonous ideology among vulnerable audiences.
We remain focused on growing our online presence. Global Coalition Twitter accounts in Arabic, French, and English continue to increase their number of followers. The Coalition Communications Cell in London, with staff from 10 countries, guides our public global messaging through daily media packages that are distributed to 950 government officials worldwide.
Coalition collaboration on financial intelligence and broad-spectrum information sharing has supported our military effort to destroy ISIS’ sources of revenue. Coalition airstrikes have destroyed energy assets and removed key financiers from the battlefield degrading ISIS’s efforts to function as a state. The reduction of ISIS-controlled territory has reduced the ability to illegally tax those under its control, removing a key source of revenue.
Additionally, the Coalition has worked closely with the Government of Iraq in its efforts to prevent ISIS from using Iraq’s financial system. The Coalition is coordinating efforts to identify clandestine ISIS investments, and attempts to launder its cash reserves through legitimate businesses. Globally, coalition members are coordinating efforts through regional fusion centers such as the Terrorist Finance Targeting Center in Saudi Arabia and sanctions designations at the UNSC 1267 ISIS and Al-Qa’ida Sanctions Committee.
The Coalition’s Counter-ISIS Finance Group (CIFG)—made up of 54 members and observers— is executing a plan that tracks evolving sources of revenue, expands information sharing, and coordinates technical assistance to coalition members in the effort to disrupt ISIS’s global financial flows. CIFG is also leading global efforts to ensure full implementation of the multiple UN Security Council resolutions that prohibit all forms of financial support to ISIS, including funds raised from kidnapping for ransom, and the sale of natural resources.
Countering Foreign Terrorist Fighters (FTF)
The flow of foreign terrorist fighters (FTF) to Iraq and Syria, many of whom joined ISIS, is down significantly after peaking in 2014. This decline has been dramatic, and geographically widespread. In December 2017, the United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2396, which requires all UN members to use Passenger Name Record (PNR) data and Advanced Passenger Information (API) to stop terrorist travel and to collect biometric data and develop watchlists of known and suspected terrorists. Fusing intelligence and military operations has also led to a dramatic decrease in ISIS’s ability to generate revenue and fund its operations. Through our efforts, we are working to cut the connective tissue of foreign terrorist fighters, financing, and its narrative that enables ISIS in areas where it is trying to establish its influence. Partners have dramatically increased global pressure against ISIS branches by increasing information sharing, enhancing border security, strengthening legal regimes, adopting strategies to counter violent extremism, and interdicting known ISIS facilitators to break up plots and protect our homelands:
- The United States now has information-sharing agreements with at least 72 international partners to identify and track the travel of suspected terrorists.
- Approximately 70 countries have laws to prosecute & penalize FTF activities, including traveling outside one’s country to join a terrorist organization.
- At least 70 countries have prosecuted or arrested foreign terrorist fighters or their facilitators and at least 31 countries use enhanced traveler screening measures.
- More than 65 countries, plus the United Nations, have contributed over 25,000 foreign terrorist fighter profiles to INTERPOL.
- Several countries have repatriated and detained FTFs captured in Syria and held by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The United States is encouraging all countries to repatriate and prosecute their FTFs in SDF custody.