UN chief meets Iraqi leaders to support fight against IS

Indo Asian News Service

Baghdad, March 31 (IANS) UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday visited Baghdad and met with top Iraqi officials to show support for the Iraq's fight against the Islamic State (IS) militant group.

Iraq is currently facing a growing humanitarian crisis following fierce battles in Mosul.

During his visit, Guterres held a meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.

The two reviewed the humanitarian situation and the protection of civilians as the Iraqi forces are fighting to retake control of the western side of Mosul, Xinhua news agency reported.

"The Iraqi people have proved their ability to defeat terrorism and to expel IS militants. We are in the final stage of liberating Mosul and our forces are exerting their utmost efforts to protect the civilians," Abadi said.

Abadi accused IS militants of "intentionally using civilians as human shields, while intensifying their propaganda machine to spread rumours" that Iraqi forces and international aircraft caused casualties among civilians.

He also called on the UN and its Security Council to "issue a resolution to prosecute (IS) for its crimes against civilians."

Guterres expressed support for Iraq's efforts to liberate its territories from IS militants, saying that "our visit to Iraq is to show solidarity at a historic moment, and we hope to liberate Mosul and let normal life return soon."

Guterres also said that he was "extremely encouraged by the commitment that expressed by the Abadi about the protection of civilians during the military operations."

The UN chief asserted the need for the international community to provide relief efforts to about three million Iraqis who were displaced by clashes against the IS, which seized large areas in northern and western part of the country in 2014.

Guterres also met with Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari and the two sides reviewed "the humanitarian, security and political situations in Iraq as well as the victories of the Iraqi forces against IS," according to a statement by Jaafari's office.

Jaafari stressed on Iraq's call on the international organisation to "adopt a draft to criminalise the terrorist ideology and fight extremism in order to protect the societies from the risk of recruiting their sons in terrorist groups," the statement said.

"Iraq needs a plan similar to Marshall Plan to assist the people of Iraq and to support development to overcome impacts of the war against terrorist gangs," the statement added.

The Marshall Plan was an initiative launched by the US to aid Western Europe to recover from devastation after the World War II.

During his visit, Guterres also met Iraqi President Fuad Masoum and the speaker of the parliament, Salim al-Jubouri, who expressed hope that the international organisation would increase its humanitarian aid in Iraq.--IANS

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