Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his Italian counterpart, Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio, will co-host a virtual meeting for members of the US-led coalition against the Islamic State (IS) on June 4, the State Department announced today.
“Ministers will discuss ways to keep continuous pressure on [IS] remnants in Iraq and Syria and strengthen our collective approach to defeat [IS’] global ambitions, while managing the challenges the coalition faces due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” the State Department said in a statement.
Why it matters: The meeting comes before Washington and Baghdad convene for a separate strategic dialogue later next month, where the two sides will hammer out the future US troop presence in Iraq. The Iraqi parliament passed a nonbinding resolution calling for the expulsion of US troops after President Donald Trump ordered a January airstrike that killed Iranian Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani and a top leader of the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Units, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, at the Baghdad airport. The coronavirus pandemic and the threat of Iranian proxy attacks also prompted the United States to withdraw hundreds of troops from some Iraqi bases. After Baghdad suspended training programs, various coalition countries withdrew or redeployed troops they had in Iraq.
What’s next: The United States has said it anticipates inviting coalition partners back to Iraq to resume training within two months, Pentagon Correspondent Jared Szuba reports.
Know more: Elizabeth Hagedorn reports on the IS prison riots in detention facilities maintained by the US-backed, Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces.