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France says ready to offer technical support to Iraqi Kurdish forces

Source: Reuters - Thu, 7 Aug 2014 17:49 GMT
Author: Reuters
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(Adds source saying military assistance not being considered)

PARIS, Aug 7 (Reuters) - France said on Thursday it was ready to support the forces of the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq to block the advance of Islamic State militants, although a diplomatic source added no military assistance was on the agenda.

"France envisages support of a technical nature and no military assistance properly speaking is on the agenda," a diplomatic source told Reuters.

French President Francois Hollande spoke on the telephone with Masoud Barzani, the Kurdish region's president, and the two agreed to cooperate, Hollande's office said in a statement. Officials declined to give more details.

"They emphasised their desire to cooperate to block the Islamic State's offensive in northeast Iraq," it said. "The head of state confirmed that France was ready to support forces engaged in this fight."

Turkish officials said on Thursday that thousands of Iraqis, most of them ethnic minority Yazidis, had fled to the Turkish border to escape the advance by Islamic State fighters into areas controlled by Iraqi Kurds. (Reporting by Michel Rose and Julien Ponthus; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

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