Coalition against IS to meet virtually amid virus

Washington (AFP) –


Foreign ministers from nations fighting the Islamic State group will meet virtually next week to coordinate action as the coronavirus pandemic disrupts operations, the United States announced Wednesday.

Top diplomats from the 82-nation coalition will hold talks on June 4 to "discuss ways to keep continuous pressure on ISIS's remnants in Iraq and Syria and strengthen our collective approach to defeat ISIS's global ambitions," the State Department said.

The nations will also look to manage "the challenges the coalition faces due to the COVID-19 pandemic," it said in a statement.

The United States, the host of the last ministerial meeting in November, is leading the virtual talks alongside Italy, which had hoped to hold a major counterterrorism meeting before being hit hard by the pandemic.

President Donald Trump last year declared the defeat of the Islamic State group, which once held vast swathes of land, as he moved to pull US troops out of Syria.

A raid in October by US special forces killed Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the movement notorious for its grisly attacks against civilians and enslavement of non-Muslims.

But alarm has been growing over attacks by the extremists around the world including in Africa and Afghanistan.

The United States blamed the group for a horrific attack earlier this month on a maternity hospital in Kabul, saying the militants wanted to scuttle a nascent peace process between Afghanistan and the Kabul government.