IS-held Raqa, Mosul 'must fall' in 2016: French defence chief

11th April 2016, Comments 0 comments

The Islamic State group strongholds Raqa and Mosul "must fall" this year, French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said during a speech in Baghdad on Monday.

The battles to retake Raqa in Syria and Mosul in Iraq are expected to be the most difficult of the war against the jihadists, who hold swathes of territory in both countries.

"Raqa and Mosul must fall in 2016," Le Drian said, calling for making it "the year of a major turning point in our struggle against the so-called Islamic State".

Raqa was seized by the jihadists in early 2014, while Mosul was overrun during an IS offensive in June of that year.

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

According to the French military, France has carried out more than 580 strikes against IS, destroying over 1,000 targets.

The country carries out 15 percent of coalition air operations, and it has around 350 soldiers deployed to Iraq.

Le Drian arrived in Baghdad on Monday and met with senior officials including Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, President Fuad Masum and parliament speaker Salim al-Juburi.

© 2016 AFP

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