France offers surveillance aid for Iraq war against ISIS

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French Minister of Defense Florence Parly spoke Thursday in Baghdad, pledging to continue supporting Iraq’s fight against the remnants of the Islamic State group.

Parly is the second French minister to visit the Iraqi capital this summer after the foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian last month.

She had talks with her counterpart Jumaa Inad and president Barham Saleh, and must meet the Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhemi before going to the Kurdish Autonomous Region of northern Iraq.

In a brief press conference with Inad, she said France hoped to resume training and arming Iraqi security forces “as soon as possible.”

Support was suspended earlier this year amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Parly said she and Inad had also discussed strengthening Iraq’s surveillance methods, “by land and in its airspace,” to clamp down on IS sleeper cells still active in desert areas.

“We are convinced that the fight against (ISIS) is not over,” she said. “We are by your side.”

Ahead of his trip, the French Ministry of Defense said it wanted to make sure that operations against ISIS in Iraq would not be derailed by increased tensions between the United States and Iran.

Iraq has been caught in the power struggle between its two main allies for years, but has had to walk a thinner line since 2018, when the United States launched a “maximum pressure” campaign. against Iran.

In January, a US drone strike on Baghdad killed senior Iranian and Iraqi officials, and Iran retaliated with strikes against US troops in western Iraq.

During his visit in July, Le Drian insisted that Baghdad “should dissociate itself from regional tensions” and remain focused on the fight against the jihadists.

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