PARIS (Reuters) - Ministers from members of the coalition fighting Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria will meet in Paris on June 2 to plot strategy including how to reverse recent losses, French officials said on Wednesday.
After taking the city of Ramadi earlier this week, Islamic State militants are seeking to consolidate gains in the vast Iraqi desert province of Anbar, where only small pockets of territory remain under government control.
“It falls at the right time to assess what’s happening because there have been some positive and negative developments,” a senior French diplomat said, adding that the countries would meet on June 2.
Government spokesman Stephane Le Foll confirmed the talks.
The United States, which is leading the coalition, has said it includes more than 60 countries, carrying out various tasks, including military attacks, humanitarian support, propaganda and cracking down on Islamic State’s finances.
Along with the United States, Washington says Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan and Bahrain have also participated in or supported air strikes in Syria. Australia, Britain, Canada and France have joined U.S. operations against Islamic State targets in Iraq.
“The loss of Ramadi is very worrying ... the question of how to retake it and what help we can give the government will be important,” the diplomat said.
He said 24 ministers and organisations would come to Paris. Discussions would also focus on trying to relaunch stalled peace talks in Syria, how to make Iraqi’s government more inclusive and how to tackle the foreign fighters dilemma.
“Things have moved in Syria. The regime is in a very bad way and is losing ground so it helps to push towards finding a political solution,” the diplomat said.
On Wednesday, their fighters seized around a third of the historic Syrian city of Palmyra after fierce clashes with the military and allied combatants.
Reporting By John Irish; editing by Mark John