BAGHDAD Aug 10 French Foreign Minister Laurent
Fabius arrived in Baghdad on Sunday for talks with officials on
efforts to confront Islamic State militants who have advanced
across northern Iraq, state television reported.
Kurdish officials said Fabius would later travel to their
regional capital Arbil for further talks.
The Islamic State has captured wide swathes of northern Iraq
since June, executing non-Sunni Muslim captives and minorities,
displacing tens of thousands of people and drawing the first
U.S. air strikes in the region since Washington withdrew troops
After routing Kurdish forces last week, the militants are
just 30 minutes' drive from Arbil, the Iraqi Kurdish capital,
which until now has been spared the sectarian bloodshed that has
scarred other parts of Iraq for a decade.
The possibility of an attack on Arbil has prompted
foreigners working for oil companies to leave Arbil and Kurds to
stock up on weapons at the arms bazaar.
In their latest sweep through the north, the Sunni
insurgents routed Kurdish forces and seized a fifth oil field,
several more villages and the biggest dam in Iraq, which could
give them the ability to flood cities or cut off water and
U.S. President Barack Obama told a news conference on
Saturday there was no quick fix for the crisis and urged Iraqi
leaders to form an inclusive government that could ease
sectarian tensions and unite Iraqis against the Islamic State.
Following the U.S. example, Britain and France also pledged
on Saturday to deliver humanitarian supplies to people trapped
by the militant advance.
British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said London was
especially concerned by the fate of Yazidis who are cornered in
their ancient homeland of Sinjar in mountainous northern Iraq.
Islamic State militants have surrounded 300 Yazidi families
and told them to covert to Islam or face death - imposing a
deadline which expires at noon on Sunday local time.
(Reporting by Isabel Coles; Writing by Michael Georgy; Editing
by Catherine Evans)