Coalition underlines necessity of non-military solution for 'lasting defeat of ISIS' at Ambassadors Day event

"Defeating Daesh (ISIS) militarily is only part of the problem." 
Dutch Ambassador Michel Rentenaar speaks at the US-led coalition's Ambassadors Day, Apr. 22, 2022 (Photo: CJTF-OIR Public Affairs)
Dutch Ambassador Michel Rentenaar speaks at the US-led coalition's Ambassadors Day, Apr. 22, 2022 (Photo: CJTF-OIR Public Affairs)

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The US-led coalition against ISIS hosted representatives from more than 25 coalition countries in Baghdad for Ambassadors Day on Thursday. 

"As we have drawn down our forces over time, the need to work together is paramount as we move forward and chart the path for the future of the fight to ensure the lasting defeat of Daesh (ISIS) and what comes after," said Maj Gen John Brennan, the commander of Combined Joint Task Force - Operation Inherent Resolve. 

"Defeating Daesh (ISIS) militarily is only part of the problem," Brennan continued. "Daesh will still be able to regenerate if we don't take steps now to preemptively stop that from happening."

Brennan also discussed internally displaced persons (IDPs) camps and long-term solutions and security improvements for detention centers housing ISIS fighters.

"We can't do what we do without support from the greater Coalition community plus the non-governmental organizations operating in the region, and all the folks who have the power to do something about the IDP camps and detention and rehabilitation centers," he said. "We appreciate the assistance from the ambassadors in helping ensure Iraqis understand the magnitude of the problem they're facing and the need to take ownership of it."

Iraq decided to resume voluntary returns from northeast Syria's notorious al-Hol camp in early 2021. Since then, Iraq has repatriated 450 families, nearly 1,800 individuals, from northeast Syria. 

More than 56,000 people live in the al-Hol camp, including foreign ISIS families. The residents are suspected of having ISIS affiliation.

The IDP camps are breeding grounds for the next generation of ISIS, Brennan explained, adding that this "issue is multi-faceted and requires a broad solution that goes beyond what the military can provide."

"We in the international community commend the Iraqi government for their leadership for returning Iraqi citizens from a-Hol camp in North-East Syria," Michel Rentenaar, the Dutch Ambassador to Iraq, who participated in Thursday's event, told Kurdistan 24. "The end goal is to return these IDPs to their places of origin in Iraq. For this, we call on the government to speed up issuing the necessary IDs, marriage and birth certificates."

Brennan also said the coalition is working directly with its partner forces in Iraq and Syria to help solve this problem, including efforts to train additional guards for the camps in Syria to protect their residents and the NGOs (non-governmental organizations) providing aid.

The coalition is also investing in infrastructure improvements for both IDP camps and formal ISIS detention centers. 

CJTF-OIR personnel also facilitate efforts by NGOs and national governments to care for, repatriate, and reintegrate IDPs back into their communities, Brennan concluded.