French ministers visit Iraq in support of IS fight


BAGHDAD: The foreign and defense ministers of France are to affirm their country’s support in the fight against the Islamic State group during a visit to Baghdad on Saturday. Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and Defense Minister Florence Parly, who arrived in the Iraqi capital on Friday evening, are scheduled to meet Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. Their visit comes as Iraqi forces battle to seize the northern city of Tal Afar from IS following their July victory over the group in second city Mosul. The ministers will also meet Iraqi Kurdish leader Massud Barzani in Arbil, where they are to echo calls by Pentagon chief Jim Mattis for the postponement of next month’s independence referendum. France is a key member of a coalition backing Iraqi forces in their campaign to retake vast tracts of Iraq that the jihadists grabbed in a 2014 offensive. French forces have carried out air and artillery strikes in support of Iraqi operations.



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