French president promises French support in Iraq fight against ISIL

World Today

French President Francois Hollande and Massoud Barzani, right, President of the Iraqi self-ruled Kurdish region, point towards Islamic State-held territory as they visit a military outpost on the outskirts of Mosul, outside the Kurdish city of Irbil, Iraq, Monday, Jan. 2, 2017. (AP Photo/ Christophe Ena, Pool)

French President Francois Hollande said on Monday in the semi-autonomous Kurdish region of Iraq that Paris will respond to the needs of Kurdish forces “Peshmerga” in their fight against the jihadist Islamic State (IS).

Hollande arrived in Erbil, capital of the semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan, from Baghdad during an official visit to Iraq with the company of French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, according to a statement from local authorities.

The two visited the battle fronts in the zone of Zardata where the Kurdish military forces fight against the IS, accompanied by Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani.

Hollande stated that the purpose of his trip was to “see the advance of Peshmerga and Iraqi forces” in its offensive to expel the IS forces from Nineveh province and the northern city of Mosul.

This is the French president’s second visit to the region since his first trip in 2014. Local authorities adopted strong security measures for the visit.

In a statement, the Kurdish Security Council said that Hollande’s visit comes “as part of (French) support for Kurdish troops in their fight against terrorism.”

It said that France’s support to the Kurdish army includes weapons delivery and personnel training, adding that the council hopes this support would continue.

Earlier, in a joint press conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, Hollande said that France “will participate with all its energy” in the recovery of Mosul.

“Actually what’s more important is to have a political solution after the liberation of Mosul, so that this city and region can have its coexistence back again and good administration that can implement reconciliation and tolerance among the people,” Hollande said.

A suicide bomber driving a pickup loaded with explosives struck a bustling market in Baghdad on Monday, killing at least 36 people in an attack claimed by the Islamic State group hours after French President Francois Hollande arrived in the Iraqi capital.

This story is by The Associated Press.