French President Francois in Iraq to visit troops, hold talks with officials

January 2, 2017 3:30 pm

French President addresses French soldiers at a base belonging to ’s Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS) near Baghdad, , January 2, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

French President Francois is in Iraq to visit his country’s troops deployed to the Arab state as part of a US-led coalition purportedly fighting Daesh terrorists.
Accompanied with French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, Hollande arrived in Iraq on Monday for a one-day visit to the Arab country with a planned stop in the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region.
Hollande paid a visit to a base where French forces are said to be training elite forces of Iraq’s Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS) near the capital, Baghdad.
Addressing the troops, the French leader said contribution to Iraq’s battle against Daesh Takfiri militants is key to preventing terror attacks at home.
Paris is part of the US-led alliance that is conducting airstrikes allegedly targeting Daesh elements in Iraq’s northern and western parts since June 2014. A similar campaign is also underway in neighboring Syria.
Analysts have assessed the air raids as unsuccessful as they have led to civilian deaths and failed to counter terrorism.
There are reportedly 500 French soldiers in Iraq as part of the US-led campaign.
The French president further sat down with Iraqi officials, including Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and President Fuad Masum. He is set to hold talks with Iraqi Parliament speaker Salim al-Jabouri.

Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi (R) meets with French President Francois Hollande in Baghdad, Iraq, January 2, 2017. (Photo by Reuters)

An unnamed source said ahead of Hollande’s trip that he will “stress the importance of continuing efforts to ensure sustainable security in the country after Daesh has been defeated and the coexistence of communities in a united and sovereign Iraq.”
Daesh began its campaign of terror in northern and western Iraq more than two years ago. 
Iraqi army soldiers and allied fighters are leading anti-terror operations across the country and have dealt heavy blows to militants over the past few weeks, particularly in the northern city of Mosul.
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