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French Minister Praises Cooperation in ISIL Fight

By Amaani Lyle
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Oct. 2, 2014 – France’s Minister of Defense Jean-Yves Le Drian praised the bilateral defense relationship with his U.S. counterpart Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel during a joint news conference today.

Le Drian noted the dire situation in the Sahel, the importance of securing porous borders and the imperative for the international community to acknowledge what is at stake, particularly regarding Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

“In the heart of Africa, from Mauritania to Libya, terrorist groups of the jihadist type are a threat [to] security of the Liberian state and [to] Europe,” Le Drian said.

As such, the cooperation among Africans, Americans and French people is a critical factor in maintaining pressure on persistent groups such as al-Qaida, the French minister explained.

“We have set up a wider system, a wider positioning since August, called ‘Operation Barkhane’ around five African countries that allows France to contain and prevent terrorist attempts,” Le Drian said, adding that the exchange of intelligence, financial support and shouldering of different capacities will continue alongside the United States.

He also mentioned France’s concerns about burgeoning terrorist networks in Libya.

“Jihadist groups are getting better in zones that are not organized and they pursue all kinds of illicit, illegal traffics. And we hope the international community is going to face this problem soon …,” Le Drian said. “My concern and the concern of France is the risk of … a network between all these different terrorist groups that are acting all over the area, from Nigeria to the Middle East.”

The French minister said France is facing its responsibilities in Iraq and Syria in what he described as the “indispensible fight” against ISIL.

“France is an active partner in the international coalition. Our armed forces are busy [in] the theater of operation, both to support Iraq and the Kurds against … ISIL,” he said. “… Since Sept. 15, the French air force has been carrying out strikes in the framework of the coalition to support Iraqi forces and Kurdish forces.”

Le Drian also noted French President François Hollande opted yesterday to strengthen the country’s contribution in the region by sending additional air, naval and intelligence assets.

“In this anti-terrorist struggle, we must together think about the long term,” Le Drian said.

(Follow Amaani Lyle on Twitter: @LyleDODNews

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Special Report: Targeted Operations Against ISIL Terrorists in Iraq

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