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Ensuring 'lasting defeat' of IS on agenda at Global Coalition summit

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By Euronews  with AP
Fleeing Iraqi civilians walk past the damaged al-Nuri mosque as Iraqi forces continue their advance against IS militants in the Old City of Mosul, Iraq, July 4, 2017.
Fleeing Iraqi civilians walk past the damaged al-Nuri mosque as Iraqi forces continue their advance against IS militants in the Old City of Mosul, Iraq, July 4, 2017.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Felipe Dana

The Global Coalition against the so-called Islamic State (IS) met on Monday to coordinate efforts to defeat the terror group.

The summit in Rome is co-chaired by the Italian Foreign Minister, Luigi di Maio, and his American counterpart, Anthony Blinken, and will be attended by more than 80 international delegations.

The meeting came just a day after the U.S. launched airstrikes against Iran-backed militias near the Iraq-Syria border.

Ministers discussed how to coordinate efforts to ensure "a lasting defeat of Daesh (another name for IS)" as well as terror organisations affiliated to the group.

According to the coalition, the ranks of IS are still filled with about 10,000 fighters spread across Syria and Iraq.

These fighters "are capable of harassing liberated communities" and so "maintaining pressure on them remains an urgent task," the Italian foreign minister said in a statement ahead of the meeting.

"We must step up the action taken by the coalition, increasing the areas in which we can operate," Di Maio said at the summit.

Outside of Iraq and Syria, he said there was an "alarming” surge in IS activity, particularly in the Sahel, Mozambique and the Horn of Africa. He called for the coalition to create a special mechanism to deal with the threat in Africa.

Blinken noted that despite their defeat, IS elements in Iraq and Syria "still aspire to conduct large-scale attacks."

"Together, we must stay as committed to our stabilisation goals as we did to our military campaign that resulted in victory on the battlefield," he said.

How to stabilise liberated areas was also be on the agenda for ministers as it is seen as "crucial to ensuring the long-term defeat of Daesh." This includes helping displaced people return home, rebuilding housing, clearing mines and restoring basic services. Since 2014, Global Coalition partners have provided $20 billion (€16.7 billion) to support those efforts.

The situation in camps for internally displaced people, including in the north-eastern Syria camp of Al-Hol, was also be discussed.

Almost 62,000 people live in Al-Hol, according to UNICEF. Nearly 40,000 of the residents are Syrian or foreign children.

The UN agency for children has repeatedly called on governments to urgently repatriate their nationals, arguing earlier this year that "children should not be detained solely on suspected family ties with armed groups or the membership of family members in armed groups."

Also on the agenda for the Coalition was how best to tackle IS propaganda, which although diminished, remains a crucial tool for recruitment.

The Italian statement stressed that "it is incumbent upon the tech industry to collaborate with governments and civil society to prevent terrorist exploitation of their platforms."

"The Global Coalition welcomes the efforts being made by Facebook, Google, Twitter Telegram and others in the private sector to counter terrorist content online that violates their respective terms of service and to exercise vigilance in removing violent extremist content from their platforms," it added.