French President visits Iraq to salute French troops fighting IS
AlJazeera – French President Francois Hollande has arrived in Baghdad to meet the French forces helping Iraq in the fight against ISIL and to hold talks with top officials.
Hollande, who was travelling with French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, had already visited in 2014 and remains the most prominent head of state to come to Iraq since the launch two and half years ago of a US-led coalition against the armed groups.
“We’re not done with the plight of terrorism. We have to keep on fighting it,” Hollande said in a New Year address to the nation that was broadcast on French television.
France has around 500 troops fighting alongside coalition forces in Iraq, backed by Rafale fighter jets.
In the last New Year message of his presidency, Hollande paid tribute to those killed in attacks in France this year, including the 86 mown down in the Bastille Day attack in Nice and smaller-scale attacks on a priest and two police officers.
The fight against “terrorism” is also domestic, stressed Hollande, citing efforts to foil attempted attacks, closely watching “dangerous individuals” and fighting against “radical extremism”.
“I know that you are worried about the terrorist threat which has not diminished as shown by what happened in Berlin,” where a Tunisian smashed a truck into a Christmas market on December 19, killing 11 people and also shooting dead the lorry’s registered driver.
This was Hollande’s last New Year appearance after he announced earlier this month he would not stand for re-election in presidential polls next year.
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