Tunisia, two more countries join anti-Daesh coalition

Published September 29th, 2015 - 05:08 GMT
US President Barack Obama made the announcement after UN General Assembly meetings in New York. (AFP/File)
US President Barack Obama made the announcement after UN General Assembly meetings in New York. (AFP/File)

President Barack Obama on Tuesday announced new partners in the anti-Daesh coalition.

"The United States established and is leading a coalition of more than 60 partners committed to degrading and ultimately destroying ISIL, and today welcomed new coalition members Malaysia, Nigeria, and Tunisia to join those efforts," Obama said.

Obama’s announcement came during a counter terrorism summit on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meetings in New York.

The American leader acknowledged that the campaign to counter militants would experience certain setbacks but was sanguine about end results.

"Ultimately I am optimistic, in Iraq and in Syria ISIL is surrounded by communities, countries and a broad international coalition committed to its destruction," he said. "We see that ISIL can be defeated on the battle field where there is sound organization and a government and military coordinating with this coalition, and our diplomatic efforts."

In Iraq, he said Mosul, Ramadi and Fallujah are still under Daesh control but one-third of populated areas have been retaken from the militants.

But in Syria, however, Obama’s hopes verses the realities on the ground have not exactly been in sync as the coalition allegedly suspended a train-and-equip program for Syrian opposition groups after the Pentagon confirmed trained fighters handed over some of their equipment to al-Nusra Front, a radical Islamist group fighting in Syria.

The coalition could train only about 120 fighters, nearly half of whom are currently dethatched from the coalition.

Meanwhile, Russia has deployed heavy weapons and troops inside Syria to support the government of Bashar al-Assad and to conduct its independent campaign against Daesh.

Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin have voiced opposing views about a political transition in Syria.

Washington wants Assad to relinquish power but Moscow strongly stands behind the Syrian president and urges international support for Assad.

Obama reiterated his position Tuesday with respect to Assad’s future, calling for his removal.   

He also said that Muslims are exposed to Daesh’s extremism, which he described as a distortion of Islam.

“Violent extremism is not unique to any one faith, so no one should ever be profiled or targeted simply because of their faith,” he warned.

The coalition has been fighting Daesh militants for more than a year at a cost of nearly $3 billion, following the militants' upsurge in Iraq early last June when Daesh began capturing large swaths of territories in Syria and Iraq.

Despite the enormous costs and resources invested in the fight, the outcome still hangs in the balance.

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