ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan24) – On Monday, French President Francois Hollande will visit Iraq and the Kurdistan Region to meet the French forces who are training local troops in the battle against the Islamic State (IS).
"We are not yet finished with the scourge of terrorism. We must continue to fight it abroad -- that's the reason for our military operations in Mali, Syria, and Iraq, where I will travel the day after tomorrow to greet our troops," Hollande said on Saturday.
There are about 500 French troops in Iraq alongside other US-led coalition forces that have been providing military training to Iraqi and Peshmerga forces in the country since late 2014.
It is the second visit of Hollande to the Kurdistan Region after his first visit on September 13, 2014, when the Islamic State (IS) was only less than 50 kilometers (31 miles) away from Erbil.
The French President is expected to land in Baghdad first and then fly to Erbil to meet with the Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani among other top Kurdish officials. He is also expected to visit Peshmerga front lines near Mosul.
Hollande was elected as the President of France in 2012. He has decided not to run for the second term of the presidency.
“He will discuss two main topics with the Iraqi and Kurdish officials: the fight against the IS in Iraq and Syria, and the administration of Mosul after the defeat of the extremist group,” the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Representative to France Ali Dolamari told Kurdistan24.
IS emerged in northern Iraq in June 2014 and occupied Mosul, the second-largest city in the country. The group shortly expanded to some province of Iraq, but since then, it has lost most of the territories it controlled.
On October 17, Iraqi and Peshmerga forces launched the military operation of liberating Mosul from the extremist group. Iraqi forces have already entered the centeral neighborhoods of the city and continue to advance.
Editing by Ava Homa