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UN Says Islamic State Increasingly Aims To Kill Civilians Outside Syria, Iraq

A United Nations report says the Islamic State extremist group (IS) has entered a new phase that emphasizes attacking and killing civilians outside territory it controls in Iraq and Syria.

In the last six months, IS has sponsored or inspired attacks that have killed more than 500 people in 11 countries: Russia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Belgium, Egypt, France, Germany, Indonesia, Lebanon, Turkey, and the United States.

The report, which was circulated to the UN Security Council on June 2, said UN members are reporting a marked increase in the number of foreign fighters returning from Syria and Iraq, where IS has suffered military setbacks and lost significant chunks of territory.

The Paris attacks in November and Brussels assaults in March demonstrated the militant group's "ability to mount complex, multiwave attacks" that were coordinated by foreign fighters returning from Syria, with some direction from IS leaders.

Several hundred foreign fighters have "relocated back to Libya" while other returnees are seeking to establish new affiliates as part of the IS strategy to expand its global footprint, the report said.

Based on reporting by AP and AFP