OTTAWA (Reuters) – The Iraqi army must do more to show it can fight Islamic State militants who have taken over a third of the country, French President Francois Hollande said on Monday.
The Iraqi army, riven by sectarian divisions between Sunni and Shi’ite Muslims, put up little resistance earlier this year as the Islamic State fighters mounted a major offensive.
Hollande pointed to the peshmerga fighters from Iraq’s northern Kurd region, who have had recent success against the Islamic State and who on Monday helped bombard Islamic State positions in the northern Syrian town of Kobani.
Western nations have been training and equipping the peshmerga for months.
Hollande made his remarks at a news conference in Ottawa, and France, like Canada, is part of the US-led campaign of air strikes against Islamic State fighters in Iraq that Hollande said is inflicting losses and boosting morale.
“These strikes won’t be enough. They have to be accompanied by movements on the ground and in Iraq it is up to the Iraq army and the Iraqi Kurd peshmerga to ensure the land can be taken back,” Hollande said.