ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Despite its military defeat, the so-called Islamic State remains a threat and is possibly reorganizing its ranks again, the Secretary-General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Jens Stoltenberg, said on Monday.
“ISIS does not control any territory anymore, and that is, of course, very much because of the efforts of the global coalition and that’s a huge achievement, a significant achievement,” Stoltenberg said during a press conference in the Belgian capital of Brussels in response to a question from Kurdistan 24 correspondent Barzan Hassan.
“But that doesn’t mean that the fight against terrorism is over or that we can be complacent,” he added. “We know that they still try to mobilize support for their twisted ideology.”
Indeed, although the Islamic State has suffered a military defeat in both Iraq and Syria where it once controlled a considerable amount of territory, the terror organization continues to launch sporadic attacks via its sleeper cells in both countries.
Last week, an Islamic State car bomb killed a member of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in the Syrian province of Deir al-Zor. Elsewhere in the province, another SDF fighter died from his injuries after unknown gunmen believed to be Islamic State members shot him.
On March 25, seven fighters were killed in the city of Manbij—an attack the Islamic State later claimed.
In Iraq, the extremist group continues to launch insurgency-style assaults including bombings, assassinations, and kidnappings in previously liberated areas like Mosul and even in areas it never controlled like the Iraqi capital of Baghdad.
“We have to make sure ISIS doesn’t return in the way it was in Iraq and Syria where they controlled territory,” Stoltenberg told Kurdistan 24, adding that is the reason NATO is currently training Iraqi forces.
“The best way to prevent Iraq from once again being threatened by ISIS is to train and build local capacity.”
Editing by John J. Catherine
(Additional reporting by Barzan Hassan)