ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – A former Canadian commander in Iraq on Sunday said the so-called Islamic State continues to pose a threat in the Middle East and across the world despite its territorial defeat in Iraq and Syria.
Brig.-Gen. Colin Keiver, who previously served as Commander Joint Task Force Impact between June 2018 to May 2019, made the comments in an interview with The Canadian Press.
“Da’esh or ISIS in Iraq or northeast Syria has been defeated in the sense that they are no longer a quasi-state,” Keiver said, referring to the terror group’s former de-facto capitals in Iraq’s Mosul and Syria’s Raqqa.
“They no longer hold any ground, but they are absolutely still alive and well in the background,” he added.
“[ISIS seeks] to expand their influence and undermine the governments of Iraq and other nations.”
Despite Baghdad having declared a military defeat against the terror group in 2017, the Islamic State continues to wreak havoc across parts of the country, especially in formerly liberated areas and even places it never controlled.
Indeed, senior Kurdistan Region officials have often called on all sides to address the underlying causes which led to the rise of the Islamic State so its ideology can be effectively defeated once and for all.
Canada’s Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan reiterated that point in an interview with Kurdistan 24 in February ahead of meetings with other defense ministers at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium.
Sajjan underlined that the Global Coalition and its partners must analyze what caused the emergence of the Islamic State and address “some of those root causes as well.”
Ottawa recently extended its military assignment in Iraq to March 2021 at the request of the Iraqi government.
Canada is also currently leading a NATO training mission in Iraq, which reflects the efforts of US President Donald Trump to have US allies bear more of the burden of common defense.
The mission builds on past NATO efforts to train Iraqi forces as they work to prevent the re-emergence of the Islamic State and other terror groups.