ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Iraqi President Barham Salih has warned that the so-called Islamic State continues to pose a threat in the country, despite its military defeat.
Salih’s comments came during the opening ceremony of a security and economic conference in the Kurdistan Region's province of Sulaimani on Wednesday.
“The victory against ISIS was an important one and we cannot downplay it,” he said. “But this was a battlefield and military victory.”
The Iraqi president added that, although the caliphate had been “eliminated,” there “are still sleeper cells and extremist groups along the Syrian border.”
“The danger and the risk of ISIS hasn’t been eliminated.”
Indeed, senior Kurdistan Region officials have repeated the same warnings about the possibility of an Islamic State resurgence if the original reasons for the group’s rise are not dealt with.
In a meeting last month with Lt. Gen. Paul LaCamera, Commander of Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR), Kurdistan Region Security Council (KRSC) Chancellor, Masrour Barzani, underlined that defeating the Islamic State’s ideology “requires addressing the underlying causes.”
Both sides agreed that many of the causes for the extremist group’s rise were political in nature, emphasizing the need to restore services and security in liberated areas, and reconciliation among Iraq’s religious and ethnic groups.
Moreover, foreign military officials have also warned of an Islamic State revival in Iraq if the conditions which led to the group's emergence were not removed.
General Colin Keiver, Canadian Commander Joint Task Force Iraq, told The National in February that it is vital “to go after the cause of those grievances” which led to the Islamic State’s rise in Iraq, “and until you do that, this is something that will continue.”
Despite Iraq declaring victory over the extremist group in December 2017, the fight to eradicate the Islamic State from the country continues. The terror group often launches regular attacks in previously liberated areas like Mosul, as well as in major cities it never controlled like the Iraqi capital of Baghdad.
Editing by John J. Catherine