French armed forces minister visits Iraq following turnover of US base

French Defense Minister Florence Parly's visit coincides with discussions between Iraq and the United States on the future of American troops in the country; France is a part of the US-led anti-IS coalition in Iraq.

al-monitor French Defense Minister Florence Parly meets with the president of Iraq's Kurdistan Region in Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan, Aug. 27, 2020.  Photo by SAFIN HAMED/AFP via Getty Images.

Aug 28, 2020

France’s defense minister headed to Iraq on Thursday to reiterate her country’s commitment to Iraq’s security and the fight against the Islamic State (IS).

Florence Parly’s visit comes following the visit of Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi to Washington last week.

In Washington, Kadhimi met with US President Donald Trump. The United States and Iraq held meetings in the context of the "strategic dialogue," which included discussions of the US-Iraq security relationship and future US troop presence.

The United States has about 5,200 troops in Iraq right now.   

“The minister recalled France’s determination in continuing the fight against Daesh,” read a statement from the French Ministry of Armed Forces, using the Arabic acronym for IS. 

The minister met with Kadhimi and Iraqi President Barham Salih. France is committed to remaining a part of the global anti-IS coalition and still views IS as a threat, according to the statement. Parly also met Prime Minister of Iraqi Kurdistan Masrour Barzani, according to his office. 

Iraqi forces, backed by the coalition, took IS’ last bit of territory in late 2017. IS has continued attacks on Iraqi and coalition troops since then. France is one of several European countries to provide troops and air support for the coalition. 

Pressure on US forces to leave Iraq increased after a US drone killed Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Commander Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad in January following an attack by Iranian-backed militants on the US Embassy. 

The coalition has turned over several military bases to the Iraqi military since then, including Camp Taji this month. 

Parly's visit on Thursday indicates that France intends to continue helping Iraq militarily in the meantime. 

Security concerns in Iraq are not limited to IS. On Wednesday, a UN convoy was damaged by an explosion. An unknown Iraqi group claimed credit for the attack, but said they targeted American soldiers.

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