- Fundamentalist group's strongholds in Syria, Iraq set to fall
- German security chief sees risk of 'spectacular actions' in EU
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Islamic State setbacks on the battlefield in Syria and Iraq are driving the fundamentalist group to escalate its offensive against civilians in Europe.
Kerry, in Brussels to commemorate the victims of Tuesday’s bombings, spoke as Syrian government troops closed in on Palmyra and the Iraqi army advanced toward Mosul, in campaigns to retake two Islamic State strongholds.
“The very reason that Daesh is resorting to actions outside the Middle East is that its fantasy of a caliphate is collapsing before their eyes,” Kerry told reporters on Friday, using another name for Islamic State. “Its territory is shrinking every day.”
The U.S. killed a senior Islamic State leader known as Haji Imam earlier this month, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said at a press conference in Washington on Friday. Imam served as the Islamic State’s finance minister, Carter said.
"We are systematically eliminating ISIL’s cabinet," Carter said.
As the hunt for the Brussels perpetrators continued, there were widespread warnings from western intelligence services that Islamic State may try to reassert itself by ordering up attacks in Europe by terrorist cells it has infiltrated into major cities.
“The terror group is under pressure and needs spectacular actions to draw attention and demonstrate its power,” Holger Muench, head of the German federal police, told Bild newspaper. “The threat level in Europe remains high and further attacks cannot be ruled out.”