Morocco: Members of the international coalition combating Daesh gathered in Morocco on Wednesday to discuss the campaign, a reminder of the terrorist group’s continued threat despite the world’s focus on Russia’s war in Ukraine.
The annual gathering of senior officials from the 8-year-old, 83-member bloc was co-chaired by US Under Secretary for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland and Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita. The group wants to reaffirm their commitment to battling Daesh together.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who tested positive for COVID-19, was replaced by Nuland, the third highest-ranking US official.
Daesh reigned over over 8 million people and controlled more than 40,000 square miles (103,600 square kilometers) from Syria to Iraq at its peak. Following a years-long global campaign against the group, it lost its last patch of land in eastern Syria in March 2019.
Since then, it has essentially gone underground and maintained a low-level insurgency in Iraq and Syria, mostly targeting security forces with roadside explosives, assassinations, and hit-and-run operations.
In recent months, the group has used the impoverished region’s economic collapse, lack of government, and growing ethnic tensions to reverse counter-Daesh gains.
Its regional attacks included a huge assault earlier this year to take a jail in northeast Syria that held at least 3,000 Daesh inmates.
A Daesh offshoot in Egypt claimed an attack on a water pumping station east of the Suez Canal on Sunday, killing at least 11 soldiers, and the group has claimed multiple attacks in Israel recently. Daesh militants in Afghanistan have increased their attacks on the Taliban, the country’s new rulers, as well as religious and ethnic minorities.
The gathering this year takes place against the backdrop of other major worldwide concerns, such as the tragic war in Ukraine, the aftermath of the coronavirus outbreak, and stepping up the battle against climate change.
According to Moroccan media, more than 80 countries will be represented at the meeting on Monday. Delegates will also debate methods to prevent reappearance in Iraq and Syria by stabilizing freed areas and pursuing long-term solutions for Daesh captives and their families, as well as fighting Daesh networks across Africa and abroad.
The Moroccan government expressed its hope that the meeting will result in enhanced international commitment and cooperation in the battle against Daesh, with a special focus on Africa and the expanding terrorist threat in the Middle East and beyond.
In recent years, a large number of Moroccans have traveled to Syria, Iraq, and other countries to join extremist groups. Morocco has also been the target of numerous attacks. In Casablanca in 2003, five suicide bombers killed 33 people. In 2011, an explosion in Marrakesh killed 17 persons, the majority of whom were international visitors.