Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein assured Monday that dialogue will continue with NATO on the mechanism of joint action in combating ISIS.
In a phone call with his French counterpart, Jean-Yves Le Drian, Hussein praised the important role of France in combating ISIS and the support provided to the Iraqi security forces through training and other logistical assistance, calling for the need to continue working together to defeat its threats.
On regional tensions and interventions, the Minister emphasized the responsibility of other countries in respecting the sovereignty of Iraq and following the principle of non-intervention, with the need for a new Iraqi policy that creates balanced relations with all neighboring countries.
For his part, Le Drian confirmed his country's support for the sovereignty of Iraq, praising the first round of strategic dialogue that took place between Baghdad and Washington and the agreement that included preserving the sovereignty of Iraq and the independence of the Iraqi decision, stressing the need to distance Iraq from tensions in the area.
Commenting on Iraqi-NATO coordination to fight ISIS, national security professor at Nahrain University Dr. Hussein Allawi described the relationship between the two sides as “strong.”
He told Asharq Al-Awsat that current contacts aim to enhance cooperation for security and intelligence training to help build the capacities of the Iraqi forces to face terrorism and strategic threats.
“NATO wishes to support the government of Mustafa al-Kadhimi,” Allawi said.
For his part, Matthew Morris, a spokesman for the US-led mission in Iraq and Syria told Asharq Al-Awsat that the Iraqi forces conducted more than 1000 group military operations against ISIS lately.
He said ISIS’ activities have decreased in the past days because the terrorist group was hit by military operations that crippled its nets in several Iraqi areas.
“However, ISIS still constitute a threat in Iraq, the Arab region and several parts around the world,” Morris said, adding that the Iraqi forces have become capable to plan and conduct operations against ISIS with the same level of the support that was offered by the Coalition in the past years.
Meanwhile, Joint Operations Command spokesman Major General Tahsin al-Khafaji announced early on Monday the launch of the third stage of Iraq’s Heroes Operation to clear and search areas in Salah al-Din Governorate and the boundaries with Diyala, Samarra, and Kirkuk governorates to combat ISIS sleeper cells.
The operation is led by the Iraqi army, members of the Popular Mobilization Forces, the Iraqi federal police, and will be supported by Iraqi air forces and coalition warplanes.