The Global Coalition – Working to Defeat Daesh
The 73-member Global Coalition is the largest international coalition in history. It is a diverse group, in which each member makes unique contributions to a robust civilian and military effort. It has recently welcomed new members including Ethiopia, Djibouti, Chad, Niger and NATO.
Additional information on Coalition member efforts and contributions can be found at https://theglobalcoalition.org/en/partners/.
The Military Campaign
Across Iraq and Syria, the Coalition and its partners have freed an estimated four million people from ISIS.
Twenty-six Coalition partners have over 9,000 troops deployed in support of the effort to defeat ISIS. Working by, with, and through our local partners, the Coalition has made significant progress in denying ISIS safe haven and building the military capacity of those engaged in direct action against ISIS.
Coalition operations have liberated over 70 percent of the terrain ISIS once controlled in Iraq and over 50 percent in Syria, including key cities in both countries. The number of ISIS fighters in Iraq and Syria is at its lowest level since the group declared its “caliphate,” down by more than half since its peak in 2014.
Coalition air assets have conducted more than 23,000 airstrikes against ISIS targets, removing tens of thousands of ISIS fighters from the battlefield and killing over 200 mid- to senior-level ISIS leaders, including nearly all of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s deputies, his so-called ministers of war, information, finance, oil and gas, and his chief of external operations. Beyond diminishing the supply of fighters, these precision airstrikes are targeting ISIS external attack plotters, military commanders, administrative officials, facilitators, and communicators, as well as its energy assets, command and control facilities, and bulk cash storage locations.
The Coalition has supported our Iraqi partners to achieve significant progress in the fight to retake Mosul. Iraqi Security Forces officially liberated eastern Mosul on January 24, 2017 and now are eliminating the remaining pockets of resistance in the western portion of the city. To date, the Coalition has trained over 106,000 Iraqi Security Forces members, including members of the Iraqi Army, Counterterrorism Services, Kurdish Peshmerga, Federal Police and Border Security Guards, Popular Mobilization Forces, and local police. Coalition members have also donated some 8,200 tons of military equipment to our Iraqi and local Syrian partners in the fight against ISIS. Turkey has granted permission for nearly 3,000 overflights of its territory to deliver military assistance to Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government.
With Coalition support, our Syrian partners have liberated more than 23,500 square kilometers of Syrian terrain, including more than 10,000 square kilometers since operations to isolate Raqqa began on November 5. Our partner force is now fighting ISIS in Raqqa, its external operations headquarters, from which ISIS plotted against Coalition member interests worldwide. Turkish-led and Coalition-supported operations have cleared more than 2,000 square kilometers of territory, driving ISIS completely from the Turkey-Syria border and thus closing a critical Foreign Terrorist Fighter (FTF) transit route to Europe. As part of these efforts in Syria, the Coalition has helped train thousands of Syrians who have joined the fight to defeat ISIS.
The Civilian Effort: Stabilization, Humanitarian and Economic Assistance
Since 2014, Coalition members have provided more than $22.2 billion in humanitarian assistance, stabilization, explosive hazards removal, and economic support in Iraq and Syria – all of which guard against a resurgence of ISIS. Last March, at the Coalition foreign ministerial in Washington, partners pledged more than $2.6 billion to continue this assistance.
At the April 2017 EU-hosted Brussels Conference, Coalition partners pledged $6 billion in humanitarian assistance for Syria and the region for 2017. This funding will help to ensure that vital humanitarian aid continues to reach those most in need, both inside Syria and in neighboring countries.
Coalition support for stabilization programs is crucial as we seek to hold terrain taken from ISIS and provide for people in liberated areas. Support for stabilization efforts is a strategic investment in the fight against ISIS. As a result of this support, the Government of Iraq is holding ground against ISIS, restoring services, clearing schools and clinics of explosive remnants of war and improvised explosive devices, helping families return home once they are ready, providing security, and re-establishing the rule of law in liberated areas.
ISIS criminals have perpetrated some of the worst international crimes the world has seen in decades. Coalition members are supporting efforts to document these atrocities while working with the Government of Iraq to hold members of ISIS accountable. Non-governmental program implementers are training Iraqi Government and Kurdistan Regional Government investigative personnel to gather evidence – including witness statements and physical evidence – of ISIS crimes for eventual use in prosecution. Iraq has requested additional assistance to build its domestic capacity to pursue accountability. Coalition members are exploring ways to support these efforts.
The United Nations Development Program (UNDP), working on the ground in Iraq with local partners, has either completed or initiated more than 1,000 stabilization projects to date. All of the completed activities have achieved their intended objectives on time and at cost. Despite the intense fighting in western Mosul, more than 350 Coalition-funded UN-led stabilization activities are being implemented in eastern Mosul and recently liberated cities and districts in the Ninewa Plain. The provision of civilian security by trained police is also critical to the stabilization effort. Five countries have joined the Italian-led effort to train Iraqi police, graduating approximately 900 new police officers each month.
Iraq’s central government has demonstrated its improved capacity to handle a range of important issues, to include supporting local governance, maintaining security, providing electricity and other essential services, managing the economy, defending its territorial integrity, and upholding the rights of all Iraqis irrespective of their ethnicity, gender, religion, or beliefs. Iraq’s success in rehabilitating liberated communities is due in part to the partnership it forged with Coalition members that has enabled the UNDP to provide more than $400 million in stabilization programs over the last two years.
The Coalition supports and enables Government of Iraq-led military and stabilization operations to ensure that cities are liberated and secured in a sustainable manner. By working with the United Nations and in partnership with the Government of Iraq, aid organizations have worked to ensure that humanitarian assistance is staged prior to military operations and in preparation for outflows of internally displaced persons (IDPs). Pre-positioning emergency assistance, identifying local hold forces to provide post-ISIS security, prioritizing mine action, and implementing quick-impact stabilization projects have led to a significant reduction in Iraq’s IDP population and helped create conditions that facilitate voluntary, safe, and dignified IDP returns. In total, more than 1.9 million Iraqis have returned to their homes. Stabilization projects, funded by Coalition partners, have helped set the conditions for the return of more than 940,000 IDPs to Anbar Province alone, including to the cities of Ramadi and Fallujah. In eastern Mosul and surrounding areas, nearly 213,000 IDPs have voluntarily returned to their homes. We will continue to provide humanitarian assistance to those in greatest need throughout the country while stabilization programs are ongoing.
Ten Coalition Members have agreed to meet one-third of Iraq’s anticipated mine action costs through 2018. Canada, Denmark, and Germany provided generous funding that has allowed Janus Global Operations to clear over 3 million square meters of at least 38 tons of explosive hazards in Iraq’s Anbar and Ninewa provinces. UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS) is similarly working to clear liberated areas, while also focusing on building local mine action capacity. Janus and UNMAS have coordinated closely with the Government of Iraq and UNDP to support stabilization planning for Mosul and already have begun clearance operations in the eastern part of the city.
As Coalition-backed forces make rapid progress in military operations to retake Raqqa, we are applying lessons learned from Mosul to facilitate the stabilization of liberated territories in Syria. Military operations have generated approximately 274,000 IDPs since the start of the Coalition-supported Raqqa campaign in November 2016. Approximately 130,000 are sheltering in known IDP sites and another 144,000 in host communities and informal sites. The majority of IDPs continues to flee toward, and seek refuge in, areas cleared by Coalition-supported forces, where host communities and NGOs support them. The UN and NGO partners have provided assistance to hundreds of thousands of IDPs since November. As the Raqqa campaign has progressed, NGOs have scaled up operations to meet emerging needs in all sectors around Raqqa. Critical aid is getting through and we are working around the clock to improve NGO coordination and access.
Humanitarian and stabilization efforts are also reaching civilian populations in the liberated areas. In April, aid organizations reached over 220,000 IDPs within Raqqa Province with food assistance. Tens of thousands more received food assistance in May and over 105,000 in June. Since 2016, 519 airlifts to Qamishli have delivered over 18,300 metric tons of food, WASH, nutrition, health, and non-food assistance. The World Health Organization has airlifted more than 40 metric tons of medical supplies to Qamishli. In Manbij alone, the Coalition and partners facilitated the delivery of more than 200 metric tons of food to 2,400 families. With Coalition support, over 200 schools have been cleared of explosive remnants of war, 400 schools have reopened, over 70,000 children are back in school, markets are open and bustling, and local medical and social services have resumed. There is now a longer-term effort by a commercial partner to survey, mark, and clear key infrastructure areas in Manbij, while simultaneously training a local Syrian capacity. This mine action capability is being expanded to Tabqa and, eventually, Raqqa City.
In part due to Coalition and international assistance efforts, we are already witnessing tens of thousands of civilians returning home to areas recently liberated around Raqqa. At least 15,000 IDPs have returned to their homes in Tabqa City; in late June alone a further 10,000 IDPs returned to their homes west of Raqqa. Despite this progress, stabilization in Syria and Iraq will be a long-term process. Greater Coalition, UN, and international resources and capabilities will be needed in order to ensure stability and prevent the return of extremist forces.
Multilateral Initiatives to Counter a Global Threat
ISIS has promoted interconnectedness among its scattered branches, networks, and supporters, seeking to build a global organization. It continues to guide and fund its branches and networks, carry out attacks well beyond the territory it directly controls, and retains a robust online presence. Coalition partners have recognized the importance of networking to effectively counter this global threat and coordinate efforts to disrupt and degrade ISIS activities. Coalition members and other partners have taken steps to strengthen their capacity to share information, while building and reinforcing partnerships with multi-national organizations like INTERPOL and EUROPOL.
In addition to humanitarian and stabilization assistance, the United Nations has developed a Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism, and nations around the world are working to implements its recommendations. The Coalition is also pressing for full implementation of multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions requiring states to take certain actions against ISIS, such as criminalizing the movement of foreign terrorist fighters and preventing arms transfers or the provision of funds. The Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF) has developed a series of initiatives, training programs, and global best practices to address the entire lifecycle of radicalization. Such steps are essential to curbing ISIS’ ability to operate freely across international borders.
Building resistance to extremist propaganda and countering terrorist use of the internet is vital to our effort. Anti-ISIS content is now more prevalent online and pro-ISIS content is declining in open forum social media channels. ISIS is struggling in the face of an increasingly organized and sophisticated body of Coalition communications initiatives.
Global Coalition member countries are producing national responses and coordinating counter- ISIS communications efforts regionally and globally. The Global Coalition Communications Working Group (led by the UAE, UK, and U.S.) regularly convenes over 30 member countries with media and tech companies to share information and strategies to counter violent extremist messages online and present positive alternative narratives.
The Communications Working Group also supports a network of messaging centers that expose, refute and combat online terrorist propaganda. These centers harness the creativity and expertise of local actors to generate positive content that challenges the nihilistic vision of ISIS and its supporters. The Counter-ISIS Communications Cell in London and the Sawab Center in Abu Dhabi lead the Coalition’s efforts to tackle ISIS propaganda.
We are making it increasingly difficult for ISIS to spread its poisonous ideology among vulnerable audiences. The Global Coalition is actively engaged with the private sector in these efforts. For example, the Global Engagement Center at the State Department uses online technology to target potential recruits of terrorist organizations and redirect them to counter ISIS content. In addition, videos developed by partners across the Coalition for a campaign targeting vulnerable audiences in Saudi Arabia and other countries were watched more than 14 million times. The effort has since expanded to other nations, including Jordan, and France. Twitter has suspended more than 635,000 ISIS-related or affiliated accounts since the middle of 2015.
We remain focused on growing our online presence. The Coalition Communications Cell in London, with staff from 10 countries, guides our public global messaging through daily media packs that are distributed to 850 government officials in 60 countries worldwide. The Global Coalition website has reached people in 190 countries around the world. Global Coalition Twitter accounts in Arabic, French, Urdu, Somali and English continue to increase their reach—with over 60,000 followers collectively. The recent #TakeDaeshDown campaign achieved 1.1 million engagements and 8,000 clicks.
Coalition collaboration on financial intelligence and broad-spectrum information sharing has supported our military effort to damage or destroy more than 3,500 ISIS energy targets. Coalition airstrikes against energy assets have impeded ISIS’s ability to produce, use, and profit from oil. Coalition airstrikes have also targeted more than 25 ISIS bulk cash storage sites, destroying tens of millions — and possibly hundreds of millions — of dollars.
Additionally, the Coalition has worked closely with the Government of Iraq in its efforts to prevent ISIS from abusing its financial system. The Government of Iraq has cut off over 90 bank branches in ISIS territory from the financial system and Iraq’s central bank has created a list of over 100 exchange houses and money transfer companies operating in ISIS-held areas or with links to ISIS. The entities on this list are now banned from accessing U.S. banknotes through the central bank’s currency auctions, and the list has been shared with regional regulators and through financial intelligence unit channels. The Government of Iraq, with the support of Coalition partners, also banned the distribution of government salary payments in ISIS-held areas, denying ISIS the ability to tax these funds.
The Coalition’s Counter-ISIS Finance Group (CIFG) — made up of nearly 50 members and observers — has recently focused on identifying and disrupting ISIS’s non-oil sources of revenues, coordinating technical assistance aimed at anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism, and deepening members’ understanding of ISIS’s procurement networks. CIFG is also leading global efforts to ensure full implementation of the multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions that prohibit all forms of financial support to ISIS, including funds raised from kidnapping for ransom, illicit trade in stolen cultural heritage objects, and sale of natural resources.
Countering Foreign Terrorist Fighters (FTF)
The number of FTFs traveling to Iraq and Syria to join ISIS is down significantly. This decline has been dramatic, prolonged, and geographically widespread. Significant milestones include: 1) Securing of the Syria-Turkey border as of November 2016; 2) the EU’s adoption of a Passenger Name Record (PNR) protocol; 3) 31 non-EU members implementing enhanced traveler screening measures; and 4) countries enacting measures in UN Security Council Resolution 2178 (2014) to strengthen their responses and abilities to counter foreign fighters and prosecuted related crimes.
- More than 60 countries have laws in place to prosecute and penalize FTF activities and create obstacles to traveling into Iraq and Syria.
- At least 65 countries have prosecuted or arrested foreign terrorist fighters or FTF facilitators.
- At least 60 countries and the UN now pass fighter profiles to INTERPOL.
- There were more searches of INTERPOL databases in November 2016 than in all of 2015.
- At least 26 partners share financial information that could provide actionable leads to prosecute or target FTFs.
- At least 31 countries use enhanced traveler screening measures.
Since the flow of foreign terrorist fighters has diminished, the challenge has evolved. Now, countries are grappling with foreign terrorist fighters returning home as well as coping with those individuals who aspire to travel, but cannot get to Iraq and Syria and thus aim to initiate attacks in their home countries. A key component to addressing these foreign terrorist fighter dynamics is the ability to identify, assess, and manage returning and radicalized individuals through information sharing, rehabilitation and reintegration, and judicial processes. This includes looking more closely at issues involving the return of FTF families from the conflict zone, clarifying state responsibilities regarding the detention and deportation of FTFs, and potential development of new multilateral instruments to better focus partners on best practices to target FTF returnees more broadly.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]