ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Former French President Francois Hollande on Monday met in Erbil with the leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and former Kurdistan Region President, Masoud Barzani, to discuss various topics, including the situation of the people in Iraq and disputed territories affected by the Islamic State.
During his tenure from 2012 to 2017, Hollande visited the Kurdistan Region on two separate occasions, the first European president to visit the region. He has met with Barzani multiple times. Hollande has previously been expressive in his praise of the Kurdish Peshmerga’s role in the fight against the extremist group.
During their latest meeting, the two men noted that “the Kurdistan Region has come a long way in the past few years following the brutal attacks by the terrorists of the Islamic State,” a statement from Barzani’s office read.
Following the Islamic State’s rise to prominence in 2014, France, headed by Hollande, joined the US-led international coalition to combat the terrorist organization.
In the nearly four years the terror group ruled, it committed untold atrocities against the minorities in Iraq and disputed territories. Militants subjected women and girls to sexual slavery, kidnapped children, forced religious conversions, executed scores of men, and abused, sold, and trafficked females across areas they controlled in Iraq and Syria.
Many, chief among them the Yezidis (Ezidis) and Christians, fled their settlements and took refuge in stable areas. The Kurdistan Region still hosts about 1.2 million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and some 250,000 Syrian refugees.
The two also “spoke of the status of the IDPs particularly from the Yezidi and Christian communities to whom the terrorists of the Islamic State posed an existential threat.”
Barzani noted that although the terrorist group had faced “a serious defeat,” their threat has not been “completely eradicated.”
To limit the Islamic State’s abilities to continue its insurgency, Erbil and Baghdad have recently worked to step up cooperation in areas where the group’s militants remain dormant, namely areas disputed between the two administrations.
Hollande and Barzani noted that these developments were in “everyone’s interest.” They also discussed Syria, where the Islamic State is on the verge of losing its grip on the last bit of territory it controls.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany