Washington – US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Wednesday that ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s death was imminent, noting that defeating the terrorist group was Washington’s top priorities in the Middle East.
Addressing a meeting of the Global Coalition against ISIS in Washington, Tillerson said: “Nearly all of Abu Bakr Baghdadi’s deputies are now dead, including the mastermind behind the attacks in Brussels, Paris and elsewhere.”
“It is only a matter of time before Baghdadi himself meets this same fate,” he stated in the opening of the meeting of the 68 members of the US-led military coalition and their Iraqi ally.
Earlier this month, the US Department of Defense said that Baghdadi had fled the Iraqi city of Mosul.
The northern city has been encircled and partially liberated by US-backed Iraqi forces, amid intense street battles, and officials believe the ISIS chief was removed from command.
“The great commonality among we who have gathered today is a commitment to bringing down a global force of evil and I emphasize the word commitment,” Tillerson said.
“The success of our mission depends on a continued devotion to our stated objective of defeating this terrorist organization,” he added.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi talked about military efforts to liberate the city of Mosul.
“Today, as we fight ISIS in the final stages militarily in Iraq and we have given them very harsh blows, we fought also the slogan of ISIS,” the Iraqi premier told the attendees.
“We prove today that this empire that they tried to build is very much on the decline, and we are trying to liberate Mosul that they attempted to make their own capital,” he added.
Al-Abadi also stressed the importance of joint international efforts to eliminate the terrorist group.
“Our common and one-front response is an indicator of the failure of the efforts of Daesh (ISIS). We are now undertaking all the efforts to make sure the displaced return to their cities and villages, and we are trying to stabilize the liberated areas and many of these cities and villages,” he said.
The Iraqi prime minister added that over 70 percent of the residents of Fallujah, and more than 90 percent of residents of Tikrit have returned to their homes “thanks to the efforts of stabilization and the return of all the necessary and essential services.”
Tillerson noted that his country was providing 75 percent of military resources in Iraq and Syria.
“The United States provides 75 percent of the military resources supporting our local partners in their fight against ISIS. For humanitarian and stabilization support, the ratio is reversed, with the United States providing 25 percent and the rest of the coalition providing 75 percent,” he stated.
“The United States will do its part, but the circumstances on the ground require more from all of you. I ask each country to examine how it can best support these vital stabilization efforts, especially in regard to contribution of military and financial resources,” the US state secretary added.