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France to continue air strikes in Iraq, Valls to MPs

media An Islamic State armed group fighter AFP/ YouTube

France will continue air strikes against the Islamic State (IS) armed group until the Iraqi army has the upper hand, Prime Minister Manuel Valls told the French parliament on Wednesday. The return of three suspected jihadis had not been handled as it should have been, he admitted.

"This military commitment has taken the form of aerial operations over Iraqi territory. We will not however deploy French ground troops,” Valls told a National Assembly debate on the intervention against the IS. “We will stay committed however for as long as is needed for the Iraqi army to gain the upper hand over Daesh [the Arabic acronym for the IS’s previous name]."

The prime minister repeated France’s call for a European Union defence strategy, claiming that France is intervening in Iraq in all of Europe’s interests not just in its own.

Germany, which is backing the US-led intervention against the IS but not participating in the air strikes, said it would not change its policy on Wednesday, despite a video in which the Philippine group Abu Sayyaf threatened to kill a German hostage.

The IS has called on sympathetic groups to kill nationals of countries that backed the military action against it.

Commenting on the bungled return of three suspected jihadis to France, which left them at liberty overnight because police were waiting at the wrong airport, Valls commented that the operation had “not gone as it should have”.

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