WASHINGTON — The international community is lining up to provide recovery assistance to parts of Syria liberated from ISIS to stabilize the areas for civilian return, a top White House official said.
Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS Brett McGurk told Pentagon reporters that “we’re not doing nation building” in Syria or large-scale reconstruction
Instead, the U.S. and allied efforts are to clear the territory of dangers “to make sure people can come home to that, to their areas without risk of getting blown up from all these landmines that ISIS has left in the area,” he said.
“So we are focused on that really prioritized effort on stabilization,” McGurk told reporters Thursday. “Stabilization is clearing a rubble so humanitarian aid can get into areas. It is basic electricity, water and the necessities of life.”
McGurk accompanied Defense Secretary James Mattis and others to Ottawa, Canada, for a meeting of representatives of the 19 nations in the anti-ISIS coalition.
On Wednesday Mattis told the reporters in the press pool that the anti-ISIS coalition remains strong, committed and is “still in the game.
“They recognize it, I’m not going up there to persuade them about the threat, it’s more to assess it, how is it adapting, how must we adapt and how do we go forward,” Mattis said then.
McGurk reminded reporters how 150,000 civilians have returned to Raqqa, Syria, even though “ISIS left an explosive device in almost every structure.”
That is the effort the needs replicated throughout the liberated territory, he said. He said there is roughly $300 million in a fund for reconstruction and that “Our diplomats are on the ground making sure it’s being spent effectively and well,” he said.
McGurk also said that U.S. Central Command, which oversees that conflict, plans a force generation conference in the near future. That is to ensure “that we can continue the efforts to train the security forces that are in the fight against ISIS, to make sure that they can hold the ground which they’ve done now for every single operation we’ve committed against ISIS,” he said.