The Islamic State (Isis) militant group could be defeated in a matter of months "or perhaps even weeks" if the international community fully engaged them, a top Kurdish official has said. Masrour Barzani, the head of intelligence and security in Iraqi Kurdistan, urged world powers to deploy ground troops to help retake the land under IS control in Syria and Iraq.
In an interview with the BBC, Barzani said he hoped last week's terror attacks in Paris would act as a wake-up call to the West. The US and its allies have conducted a year-long aerial bombing campaign to check IS gains, but President Barack Obama has come under pressure to do more in the wake of the violence in the French capital.
Obama defended his Syrian strategy earlier this week at a heated press conference in Antalya, Turkey, saying it would be a "mistake" to deploy US ground troops against IS.
"We play into the Isil (IS) narrative when we act as if they are a state and we use routine military tactics that are designed to fight a state that is attacking another state. That's not what's going on here," he said.
Call to arms
If the Western powers were unwilling to send in ground troops, Barzani said they should provide greater support to Kurdish fighters in Syria and Iraq who have made gains against IS.
"Once they lose territory, there is no area for jihadists around the world to come to and they will lose their capability to recruit locals and lose capability to raise funds," Barzani said. "I think if the international community is willing to fully engage and militarily defeat Isis, it should not take more than months of perhaps weeks."
Despite recent setbacks and military losses, he said IS had not been significantly weakened by the US-led coalition's air campaign. "It is very difficult to say that Isis has weakened. They might be losing some ground here and there but to terrorise, of course, they are using different methods," Barzani stated. "I think [the Paris attack] 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."