In Iraq, Hollande vows to tackle foreign
fighters and their children
Send a link to a friend
[January 02, 2017]
By Elizabeth Pineau
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - France will fight any
French jihadists it finds on the battlefields of Iraq, arrest them if
they return home and work to de-radicalize their children, President
Francois Hollande said on a visit to Baghdad on Monday.
There are about 60 French citizens fighting alongside Islamic State
militants in the northern city of Mosul alone and hundreds more in the
rest of the country and Syria, French diplomatic sources said.
"We will fight them like (we fight) all jihadists ... since they are
attacking us, since they prepare attacks on our own territory," Hollande
told a news conference.
The children of returning militants would be taken in and
"de-radicalised," he said on the one-day visit. "We are preparing for
these returns and the very particular processing of these children."
The Socialist president, whose country has faced a series of militant
attacks in the past two years, said French soldiers serving in a
U.S.-led coalition against the jihadists were preventing more mass
killings at home.
"Everything that contributes to reconstructing Iraq is an additional
step to avoiding Daesh strikes on our own territory," Hollande said,
using an Arabic acronym for Islamic State.
Hollande has seen his popularity rating plummet since taking office,
amid frustration over his handling of the economy and national security.
He has said he will not stand again in presidential elections this year.
He will travel later on Monday to the Kurdish city of Erbil, where
France will deliver about 38 tonnes of humanitarian aid, including
medicine, officials said.
The European Union police agency Europol last month warned of the risk
of an increased rate in the return of foreign fighters.
[to top of second column]
Iraq's President Fuad Masum (R) and French President Francois
Hollande (L) speak at the start of their meeting at the presidential
palace in Baghdad, Iraq, January 2, 2017 at the start of a one-day
visit. REUTERS/Christophe Ena/Pool
U.S.-backed Iraqi forces are currently fighting to push Islamic
State, the Sunni Muslim militant group, from Mosul, the fighters'
last major stronghold in the country, but are facing fierce
It will likely take weeks to recapture Mosul, Hollande said. "Daesh
is stepping back and Daesh will be defeated," he said.
"It's a year that will be a year of victory, here, against
At least 16 people were killed by a car bomb in a busy square in
Baghdad's sprawling Sadr City district on Monday, while Islamic
State attacks on military positions north of the capital killed 16
pro-government fighters, sources said.
(Additional reporting by Stephen Kalin; Writing by Ingrid Melander;
Editing by Andrew Heavens)
[© 2017 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2017 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.