Middle East

Iraqi-Kurdish leader says Paris attacks a 'wake-up call'

Kurdish Peshmerga soldiers search for weapons in rubble of building in Sinjar. 16 November 2015 Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The battle to retake Sinjar was backed by US-led coalition air strikes

The head of intelligence and security in Iraqi Kurdistan has said he hopes last Friday's attacks in Paris will act as a wake-up call to Western powers.

Masrour Barzani told the BBC that the Islamic State group (IS) could be defeated within months if the world community became fully engaged.

He was speaking after Kurdish forces drove IS out of the strategic Iraqi town of Sinjar.

IS still controls large areas of Syria and Iraq.

Speaking at a command headquarters near the Sinjar front, Mr Barzani told the BBC's Jim Muir that despite setbacks, IS had not been significantly weakened.

And he said he hoped that the attacks in Paris, in which 129 people died, would be a game changer, spurring Western powers to become more involved in fighting the militants.

"It's very difficult to say that Isis (IS) has weakened. They might be losing some ground here and there, but to terrorise of course they are using different methods," he said.

"I think this is probably a change of tactics. They might try to do more of this if they are not stopped and they are not kept under pressure."

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Media captionMasrour Barzani thinks Islamic State could be defeated in "months perhaps even weeks" if Western powers fully engaged
Image copyright AFP
Image caption IS killed and enslaved thousands of members of the Yazidi community after seizing Sinjar in 2014

Mr Barzani said that if Western countries were unwilling to send in ground troops, they should give greater support to forces such as the Kurdish fighters in both Iraq and Syria who were succeeding against the militants.

However, he conceded that the Kurds were reluctant to push into territory that they don't regard as their own.

Our correspondent says the US-led coalition, which has been bombing IS in Syria and Iraq for more than a year, has had problems finding reliable ground forces to partner with.

Russia, which is an ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, recently launched its own air campaign against militants.

Since the attacks in Paris, which were claimed by Islamic State, France and Russia have intensified air strikes against IS targets in Syria.

French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle is expected to arrive in the region this week.