Battling Isis in Iraq helps prevent terror attacks at home, Francois Hollande says

French president also meeting top Iraqi politicians during one-day visit

Jon Sharman
Monday 02 January 2017 10:06
Francois Hollande
Francois Hollande

Francois Hollande has told his country's forces in Iraq that battling Isis abroad helps prevent attacks at home.

The French President arrived in Baghdad today to meet French troops and top officials, and will "stress the importance of continuing efforts to ensure sustainable security in the country after Isis has been defeated", a source told AFP.

He was due to meet Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, of Iraq's main Shiite political group, President Fuad Masum, a Kurd, and Parliament speaker Salim al-Juburi, a prominent Sunni politician.

France has 500 soldiers in Iraq training local forces and, since it joined the US-led coalition against Isis in 2014, its Rafale aircraft have carried out some 1,000 air strikes.

Following the attacks by Islamic extremists in Paris in 2015, the French government decided to increase its defence budget by €600m (£506m) in 2016 and €700m this year.

Last week Mr al-Abadi claimed it would take "three months to eliminate" Isis from Iraq.

Backed by US forces, the Iraqi military has been battling to dislodge the militant group from Mosul, the largest city held by Isis in either Iraq or Syria and the de-facto capital of its self-styled Islamic caliphate.

But more than two months into the operation, only a quarter of the city has been taken. Commanders have blamed the slower pace on the need to protect civilians who have mostly stayed in their homes rather than fleeing as was expected.

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