French defence minister in Iraq for talks on anti-IS war

11th April 2016, Comments 0 comments

French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian arrived in Baghdad Monday on an unannounced visit for talks with Iraqi officials on the war against the Islamic State group.

Le Drian discussed the campaign against IS, in which France is playing a major role, with President Fuad Masum and parliament speaker Salim al-Juburi, their offices said in statements.

IS claimed attacks in Paris that killed 130 people in November last year and there is concern that the jihadists will strike the country again.

Belgium's federal prosecutor has said that a jihadist cell that attacked the Brussels airport and a metro station last month, killing 32 people, initially planned to target France.

France is part of a US-led coalition that is carrying out air strikes against IS and providing training and other assistance to Iraqi and Syrian forces.

IS overran large areas north and west of Baghdad in June 2014, but Iraqi forces have since regained ground with backing from the coalition.

The jihadists still control significant territory in western Iraq and hold major areas in neighbouring Syria.

His visit comes just days after US Secretary of State John Kerry vowed during a trip to Baghdad that the coalition and Iraq would turn up the heat on IS after the jihadists suffered a string of losses.

© 2016 AFP

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