President Francois Hollande said Wednesday France was ready “to step up actions” against Islamic State militants in Iraq, as the United States said international airstrikes were finally stopping the jihadists’ advance.
“We will continue to provide military support to Iraq, which is the victim of a large-scale terrorist attack,” Hollande said in a joint statement with visiting Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.
France was quick to join the military action of the US-led coalition but Paris has so far refused to join the United States in its air war against ISIS in Syria.
Last month, the French government said that six Mirage fighter jets would be deployed to Jordan to assist in the fight against IS. France already has nine Rafale fighter jets in the United Arab Emirates participating in air strikes.
However, in contrast to the United States, France has carried out only a handful of strikes on the militants.
The action carried out so far “has allowed indisputable progress and military and therefore political success,” stressed Hollande.
For his part Abadi said: “We are in the process of freeing all our land that was occupied” and “we think this liberation is not far off.”
“Today, there is more optimism and more hope that Iraq can be a single country, a single people,” he added.
However, he warned that the recent dramatic drop in oil prices was having “negative consequences for our budget” and appealed for “reconstruction aid.”
“Terrorism is preying today on poverty and people’s dissatisfaction over the economic situation,” he said.
US Secretary of State John Kerry, hosting a meeting of an anti-IS coalition in Brussels, said international airstrikes were finally stopping the advance of the jihadists across Iraq and Syria, but warned it could take years to defeat them.