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France calls for inclusive Iraqi government to counter ISIS advance



French foreign minister Laurent Fabius on Sunday urged Iraq’s bickering leaders to form an inclusive government in order to stem the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) jihadist insurgency.

“Iraq is in need of a wide unity government, and all Iraqis should feel that they are represented in this government, and all Iraqis should feel they are represented to take part in this battle against terrorism,” France’s top diplomat told a news conference with his Iraqi counterpart shortly after arriving in Baghdad Sunday morning.

Later in the day, Fabius is set to travel to the Kurdish regional capital, Arbil, for further talks.

ISIS has captured wide swaths of northern Iraq since June, executing non-Sunni Muslim captives,displacing tens of thousands of people and drawing the first U.S. air strikes in the region since Washington withdrew troops in 2011.

After routing Kurdish forces last week, the militants are just a 30 minute drive from Arbil, the Iraqi Kurdish capital, which until now has been spared the sectarian bloodshed that has scarred other parts of Iraq for a decade.

The possibility of an attack on Arbil has prompted foreigners working for oil companies to leave the region and Kurds to stock up on weapons at the arms bazaar.

Reporting from Arbil, journalist Adam Pletts told FRANCE 24 that news that the US had launched airstrikes on the militants had helped reinsure the city’s inhabitants.

“Two or three days ago there were some serious concerns,” he said.

In their latest sweep through the north, the Sunni insurgents routed Kurdish forces and seized a fifth oil field, several more villages and the biggest dam in Iraq, which could give them the ability to flood cities or cut off water and electricity supplies.

US President Barack Obama told a news conference on Saturday there was no quick fix for the crisis and urged Iraqi leaders to form an inclusive government that could ease sectarian tensions and unite Iraqis against the Islamic State.

Following the U.S. example, Britain and France also pledged on Saturday to deliver humanitarian supplies to people trapped by the militant advance.

British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said London was especially concerned by the fate of Yazidis who are cornered in their ancient homeland of Sinjar in mountainous northern Iraq.

ISIS militants have surrounded 300 Yazidi families and told them to covert to Islam or face death – imposing a deadline which expires at noon on Sunday local time.

Source: France 24