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Civilians fleeing fighting between Syrian Democratic Forces and Islamic State jihadists in the village of Baghuz in eastern Syria Civilians fleeing fighting between Syrian Democratic Forces and Islamic State jihadists in the village of Baghuz in eastern Syria  (AFP or licensors)

Germany warns: 'Don't underestimate Islamic State'

Germany warns that terror group Islamic State is far from being defeated, contracting statements by US President Donald Trump who wants to withdraw American forces from Syria soon. The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, spoke about Islamic State threats during the inauguration of the new headquarters of Germany's foreign intelligence agency.

By Stefan J. Bos

Merkel warned Friday that the Islamic State that has claimed responsibility for numerous deadly attacks in Europe and beyond is turning into an asymmetrical warfare force.

She acknowledged that the militant group lost almost all of the territory it once controlled in Syria.

But the chancellor said Germany and allies will face an uphill battle to ensure its defeat as the group has not disappeared and in her words "we remain a long way from peace in Syria."

Merkel’s remarks at the inauguration of the Berlin headquarters of Germany’s foreign intelligence agency BND contradicted statements by U.S. President Donald Trump that the Islamist group has been defeated.

Trump wants to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria by the end of April, a plan that has alarmed European allies including Germany.

Militants resurface

They fear the Islamic State would resurface in Syria in the absence of a credible peace plan to end the country’s civil war.

Merkel also said it was necessary for Germany's intelligence service to prepare for electronic warfare through for instance the
Internet. "We have to learn how to deal with so-called fake news as part of hybrid warfare. In my views this is one of the crucial elements for future security and the stability of German society," the chancellor added.

She spoke in Berlin where the BND new headquarters will house the agency’s 4,000 workers who will move from its current location near Munich.

The massive structure hidden behind a wall in German capital’s central Mitte district took more than 10 years to complete and reportedly cost over 1.4 billion euros.

08 February 2019, 17:21