During an online forum hosted by the US Institute of Peace, Marine Corps Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie, who heads US Central Command, revealed that Daesh is still active in Syria and Iraq and committed to recruiting jihadis, the Washington Times reported.
Despite the fact that the group no longer poses the same security threat it did five years ago, a Daesh resurgence will arise in the future if a sweeping deradicalization initiative is not established, McKenzie warned.
McKenzie also expressed concern that the al-Hol refugee camp in northern Syria, which houses people diplaced by war in Iraq and Syria but also captured Daesh terrorists and their families, could potentially be a breeding ground for a resurgence in terrorism.
At present, more than 65,000 refugees from Iraq and Syria live at the al-Hol camp.
Ambassador William Roebuck, the US deputy special envoy to the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, also noted during the meeting that Daesh “remains a significant threat.”
“And that’s why the military presence is still there and that's why the coalition remains engaged, to prevent [Daesh] from resurging,” Roebuck added, 13NewsNow reported.
During the meeting, foreign policy analysts also noted that Daesh could still conduct smaller-scale terrorist strikes and may have already formed mutually beneficial relationships with “elements of the Taliban” in Afghanistan, though the two factions have historically not been allies, the Times reported.
Such an alliance could be particularly dangerous, given that the US and the Taliban struck a peace deal in February in the Qatari capital of Doha that stipulates the gradual withdrawal of US troops from the country. While the pact forbids the Taliban from attacking US forces and from providing support for extremists, local Daesh affiliates such as Islamic State Khorasan are not bound by those terms. Afghan government officials have said that the Taliban may be secretly providing intelligence to Daesh, the Times reported.