Good morning, and thank you, Excellencies, Minister al-Sabah, for the – for welcoming me today, and I want to also greet excellencies, colleagues, and friends of the coalition. I appreciate the opportunity to address you.
It has been approximately three and a half years since the global coalition began its effort to defeat ISIS. At the time we started our efforts, ISIS/Daesh was thriving. Today, ISIS/Daesh is failed. Approximately 98 percent of the territory once held by ISIS in Iraq and Syria has been liberated. Approximately 3.2 million Syrians and 4.5 million Iraqis have been freed from the tyranny of ISIS. Over 3.2 million internally displaced Iraqis are now back home. ISIS’s leadership, online presence, and global network are under more pressure than ever.
But the end of major combat operations does not mean that we have achieved the enduring defeat of ISIS. ISIS remains a serious threat to the stability of the region, our homelands, and other parts of the globe. Without continued attention on the part of coalition members, we risk the return of extremist groups like ISIS in liberated areas in Iraq and Syria and their spread to new locations.
Each of us must continue our commitment to the complete defeat of ISIS. Maintaining stabilization initiatives is essential in this regard. If communities in Iraq and Syria cannot return to normal life, we risk the return of conditions that allowed ISIS to take and control vast territory. We must continue to clear unexploded remnants of war left behind by ISIS, enable hospitals to reopen, restore water and electricity services, and get boys and girls back in school.
In Iraq, it is critical that the funding facility for stabilization be fully funded in this, its final year, in order to ensure the stabilization initiatives led by the Government of Iraq can be well-positioned to prevent a resurgence of ISIS. The United States appreciates the generous contributions of coalition members over the past year, but we all must do our part to ensure that (inaudible) stabilization (inaudible) in Mosul City, western Anbar, western Nineveh, and (inaudible).
In Syria, the United States continues to be the world’s largest donor of humanitarian assistance to the Syrian crisis. At the end of January we provided more than $216 million in new funding, bringing our total humanitarian assistance to nearly $7.7 billion since the start of the crisis. Today, I am announcing that we are providing an additional $200 million to further support critical stabilization and early recovery initiatives in liberated areas of Syria.
To ensure an enduring defeat of ISIS in Iraq and Syria, we are working with the global coalition and local partners to consolidate military gains. Home forces are essential to securing liberated areas and setting the conditions for safe and voluntary return of IDPs and refugees.
The United States will maintain a conditions-based and ISIS-focused military presence in Syria. As part of that presence, we will continue to train local security forces in Syria. We are also working to ensure the local forces we train are effective, professional, accountable, and respectful of human rights. It is essential that these forces be representative of their local communities and do not pose a threat to neighboring communities or neighboring countries.
In Syria, we remain concerned over recent events in northwest Syria and call on all parties to remain focused on defeating ISIS, de-escalating and resolving the Syrian conflict, and protecting innocent civilians.
We are keenly aware of the legitimate security concerns of Turkey, our coalition partner and NATO ally. We will continue to be completely transparent with Turkey about our efforts in Syria to defeat ISIS, and we stand by our NATO ally in its counterterrorism efforts.
As ISIS continues to evolve, so must the coalition. (Inaudible) ISIS is attempting to morph into an insurgency in places like Afghanistan, the Philippines, Libya, West Africa, and others, and is trying to carve our and secure safe havens. We have seen in Iraq and Syria the consequences of an ISIS territorial threat. History must not be allowed to repeat itself elsewhere.
As ISIS fighters (inaudible) Security Council Resolution 2396 is a new and effective tool for countering threats posed by foreign terrorist fighters. The United States calls for quick implementation and full enforcement of the resolution.
Lastly, we must keep up the pace of combatting ISIS as it continually seeks to radicalize, recruit, and direct operations online. We must be aggressive in online spaces (inaudible) such as the instant messaging service (inaudible).
The fight against ISIS will remain difficult. Coalition partners must call on all international powers to eradicate this threat. Every one of us must continue to adapt and strengthen our coalition through counter-ISIS’s own network of foreign fighters, financing, and propaganda. And we must continue to deepen our partnerships in the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS.
The United States supports the revised guiding principles being presented today. They reaffirm our common determination to continue our efforts until we have achieved the full and enduring defeat of ISIS. And they (inaudible) our vision (inaudible) the coalition and our ongoing cooperative efforts.
As the opening line of the guiding principle says, “We are,” and I quote, “united in our determination to defeat ISIS/Daesh through a focused, sustained, and multifaceted effort.” It is now our duty to keep taking action that reflects that determination. (Applause.)