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The Interview

Exclusive: Iraqi Kurdistan PM Barzani warns 'great possibility' of IS group returning

THE INTERVIEW
THE INTERVIEW © FRANCE 24

In an exclusive interview with FRANCE 24, Masrour Barzani, Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, warned "there is a great possibility for ISIS (the IS group) to come back" and urged the international community to take action.

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Barzani claimed the IS group had more members now than it did in 2013 when it was about to create its "caliphate".

He also said the terrorist group was taking advantage of the security "vacuum" in areas disputed between the central government in Baghdad and the Kurds and called for the resumption of full security cooperation between the two respective parties.

Speaking to FRANCE 24's Marc Perelman, the Iraqi Kurdistan PM Masrour Barzani expressed his support for US troops remaining in Iraq and said he would be open to allowing the US to deploy Patriot anti-missile systems. He said he was very worried about the escalating tensions between the US and Iran but refused to comment on the US killing of Qassem Soleimani, noting, however, that while "Iran is our neighbour, the United States is our friend".

He criticised Hassan Nasrallah, the Hezbollah leader, for recently declaring that his father Massoud Barzani begged Soleimani to come to the rescue when the IS group was marching towards Kurdistan in 2014.

Barzani also lamented Turkey's "invasion" of northern Syria, saying it was not helpful and it risked changing the demographics on the ground.

He voiced cautious hope that the new Iraqi prime minister, Mohammad Allawi, would be more successful than his predecessor, noting that it was urgent to respond to the demands of the protesters. 

Barzani further said it was up to the Iraqi people to decide whether early elections should be held.

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