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Foreign ministers to meet in US on IS amid Syria pullout

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Washington (AFP)

Foreign ministers from around the world will meet next week in Washington to coordinate the fight against the Islamic State movement after President Donald Trump's controversial decision to pull out of Syria, the State Department said Tuesday.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will host a day of meetings on February 6 of the 79-member Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, which the United States assembled in 2014 as the extremists seized vast stretches of Syria and Iraq.

"The United States is determined to prevent a resurgence of ISIS in Syria and Iraq after the withdrawal of US forces from Syria takes place, and remains committed to working with the Global Coalition to continue to destroy ISIS remnants and thwart its global ambitions," the State Department said in a statement.

"As ISIS is defeated on the battlefield, the coalition will continue its stabilization efforts to facilitate the safe and voluntary return home of those who have been displaced by the violence."

Trump, a longstanding skeptic on US foreign involvements, said in December that he was withdrawing the 2,000-strong US force from Syria and declared the defeat of the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS or IS.

Aides have since walked back the timeline but said that the pullout will happen.

The US envoy instrumental in building the coalition, Brett McGurk, resigned in protest over Trump's decision and voiced fears for Syria's future.

European nations, which have faced a wave of attacks by sympathizers of the extremist ideology, have voiced concern about Trump's orders, which came just as the movement had lost nearly all of its land in Syria.

Turkey has been the most supportive of the US withdrawal and has threatened to smash Kurdish fighters battling the Islamic State movement, although the Trump administration has warned Ankara against an attack.

The coalition last met at the level of ministers in July in Brussels.

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