Iraq needs more global support to counter the advance of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) armed group, whose fighters are mostly foreigners, Iraq’s prime minister said.
Speaking to reporters in Paris on Tuesday, just hours ahead of a meeting of foreign ministers from the international coalition fighting the group, Prime Minister Haider al-Abbadi said that the ISIL advance was a failure for the international community.
The armed group has made several recent gains, conquering both the Iraqi city of Ramadi and the historic Syrian city of Palmyra. The foreign ministers are meeting in Paris to reassess strategy against the group.
Abbadi said Iraq “needs all the support of the world” to counter the group’s advance, but “we are not getting much. I think this is a failure on the part of the world … There is a lot of talk of support for Iraq, there is very little on the ground”.
He also said that the majority of the ISIL fighters were foreign: “What I can see for Iraq, the flow of foreign fighters is more than before.”
He said that up until recently, around six out of 10 fighters were Iraqi and the remainder foreign whereas now the proportion was reversed.
“[ISIL] is creating a new generation of fighters, dedicated, ideologised. They are prepared to die but they are not suicide bombers,” said the prime minister.
More than 4,100 air strikes by the US-led coalition have failed to stem gains by ISIL fighters.
France’s foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, said air strikes can only be effective if all Iraqis believe “the government is inclusive”.
However, no sharp change in strategy is expected to be announced at Tuesday’s meeting.