France on Thursday (June 1st) presented its highest award to Iraqi Counter Terrorism Service (CTS) head Lt. Gen. Taleb Shaghati al-Kanani for his efforts in the war against the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS).
The National Order of the Legion of Honour was presented to al-Kanani by French Ambassador Marc Barretti, on behalf of President Francois Hollande, during a ceremony at the CTS headquarters in Baghdad.
In a speech delivered at the ceremony, al-Kanani said he was honoured to receive the award during the holy month of Ramadan.
"Our relationship with France is historic, and the French president has an important role in fighting terrorism," he said.
"We all remember the president's visit to Iraq after the events of June 2014 (when ISIS overran Mosul) and France's embrace of the Paris conference on fighting terrorism," he added.
Al-Kanani noted that France has provided military support for Iraq, "sending many soldiers and technical trainers to support our efforts in confronting terrorists, in addition to providing air support and reconnaissance aircraft".
"This is a battle on behalf of the world that the French side is contributing to," he added.
'A courageous leader'
The French Ambassador described al-Kanani as "an example of the courageous leader for his great role in the battle against ISIS and contribution to deepening French-Iraqi relations".
Iraqi MP Majed al-Gharawi, who serves on the parliamentary security and defence committee, stressed the importance of upholding "the morale of Iraqi commanders and soldiers and supporting them in fighting terrorist groups".
The French award recognises "an Iraqi military [leader] characterised by his skills, successful management of the counter terrorism service and the Joint Operations Command in all its formations", he added.
"When a leader like al-Kanani is honoured, this is an honour for Iraq and its government," al-Gharawi said. "It shows the world's interest and appreciation of the great sacrifices made by Iraqis in the face of terrorism."
"We applaud the French move, which comes in the midst of the victories that our forces are making to liberate the city of Mosul from the grip of ISIS," he added.
The award is "a tribute to the efforts of all members of the [counter-terrorism] service and the Iraqi forces that fight terrorism bravely and offer their lives to the homeland", said CTS spokesman Sabah al-Numan.
"This initiative highlights the extent to which people believe in the cause of Iraq and its right to defend its soil, the safety of its citizens and its role in protecting the world from the threat of terrorism," he told Diyaruna.
Al-Numan noted Iraq's "positive co-ordination and co-operation with France" and with other countries that offer "military assistance and great moral support for Iraq" as part of the coalition fighting ISIS.
Al-Kanani was appointed head of the CTS in 2007, and was assigned to head the Joint Operations Command in 2014.