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US tells anti-ISIS coalition to 'keep eyes on prize'

AP  |  Kuwait City 

The Trump administration, increasingly concerned that the 74-strong coalition it cobbled together to destroy the Islamic State group is losing sight of the prime objective, is pressing its partners to refocus efforts, overcome rivalries and concentrate on the task at hand: the eradication from and of the extremist group.

The alarm US plans to sound at a coalition gathering in on Tuesday comes with the fight at a critical moment and the mission shifting from offensive military operations to stabilisation.

Distractions are adding up, such as Turkey's fighting with US-backed Kurdish rebels in and renewed spillover from Syria's civil war.

Meanwhile, hostilities between noncoalition actors Iran, its proxies in Syria, and risk creating a new conflict in an already crowded battlespace.

What will Tillerson's message to America's allies be, U.S. officials say? "Eyes have to be on the prize." The prize, according to one senior official: "The enduring defeat of "

Anything that hinders that goal also gets in the way of broader objectives like a political transition in that ultimately leads to an end of the war and blunts Iranian behavior throughout the region. "It's complicated enough as it is. Let's not make it more so," the said in describing the administration's view.

That and others who previewed Tillerson's objectives for the meeting were not authorized to do so publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Rising tensions between the US and NATO ally over Turkish military operations against the Kurds are a primary concern and Tillerson will end his five-nation swing through the region in on Friday after stops in and

Turkey's said yesterday that Tillerson's visit, which follows a similar trip by H.R. McMaster, comes at a make or break time for relations.

"Our relations are at a very critical stage," Melvut Cavusoglu said. "Either we will improve ties or these ties will totally break down."

is riled over Washington's support for the Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units, or YPG the top US ally in the fight against the Islamic State group. considers the YPG a "terrorist" group linked to Kurdish insurgents fighting within Turkey's own borders.

The US officials allowed that the talks in would be difficult. But they maintained, as Tillerson and others have in the past, that the US appreciates Turkey's legitimate security concerns.

However, they also stressed that addressing those should not come at the expense of the If the Kurds feel threatened, the officials said, they will move their forces away from Islamic State fronts, prolonging the fight.

In addition to keeping the fight against in and on the front burner, Tuesday's meetings will also focus on preventing the spread into and elsewhere of retreating IS fighters, according to the officials.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, February 13 2018. 14:40 IST