US Says No Uptick in Violence From Islamic State in Syria, Iraq
The United States has seen no uptick in Islamic State activity in Iraq and northeastern Syria, US Special Representative for Syria James Jeffrey said on Thursday, weeks after an American drone strike killed Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad.
Jeffrey said US-led coalition operations have been on pause in Iraq as the focus has been on force protection and talks with the Baghdad government on the way forward after Iraq’s parliament voted to expel foreign troops.
The lawmakers were furious at the Jan. 3 drone strike on Iraqi soil that killed Soleimani, the architect of Iran’s drive to extend its influence across the region, and Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.
“We have not seen an uptick in violence in Iraq by Daesh in this period,” Jeffrey told reporters at the State Department, using a term for Islamic State.
Jeffrey said officials will meet in Copenhagen on Wednesday to discuss the way forward in the US-led operation against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.
“The coalition is very, very much committed to this mission,” Jeffrey said.
Jeffrey acknowledged the pause in Iraq could hamper the fight against Islamic State if it continues.
“Over time, obviously there is a possibility of a degradation of the effort against Daesh if we’re not able to do the things that we were doing so effectively up until a few weeks ago,” he said.