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Hollande in the Line of Fire in Iraq | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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French President Francois Hollande at a military base in northern Iraq. Photo: AFP

Baghdad, Erbil-As a series of explosions hit Iraq, French President Francois Hollande set foot in Baghdad where he met with Iraqi President Fouad Masoum, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and Speaker Salim al-Jabouri.

The French president then headed on Monday to Erbil where he and President of Iraqi Kurdistan Region Masoud Barzani visited the Kurdish Peshmerga forces fighting ISIS on the frontlines.

This is Hollande’s second visit to the Kurdistan Region since the start of the war with ISIS. His first visit was in September 2014, immediately after the collapse of Mosul and its control by ISIS.

Hollande is the first to announce France’s immense military support to the Iraqi army against extremist confrontations.

At a base of Iraq’s elite Counter-Terrorism Service near Baghdad, AFP quoted the French president as saying that “taking action against terrorism here in Iraq is also preventing acts of terrorism on our own soil.”

However, Hollande quickly said that any “victory” is meaningless if not accompanied with “reconstruction” in Iraq.

After arriving in Erbil, Hollande visited the Peshmerga in Mount Zerdek near Bashiqa with the Kurdish President. Rudaw news network said on Monday that the French president asserted his country will continue to offer training and expertise, and that France will also provide the necessary materials to combat the terrorists.

“Cooperation between French forces and the Peshmerga is remarkable, and the same cooperation exists with the Iraqi forces,” he said, adding that he expected the Mosul battle to end before summer.

As Hollande arrived in Baghdad, the Iraqi capital witnessed a series of explosions that left more than 50 people killed and 70 injured. A curfew was announced in the city of Samarra after suicide bombers attacked two police stations in the center of the city.