US pledges more military support to Kurdish Peshmerga forces

Published July 13th, 2016 - 10:00 GMT
A Kurdish Peshmerga fighter poses with his weapon on the front line in Makhmur, Iraq. The Peshmerga are fighting to protect Kurdistan. (AFP/File)
A Kurdish Peshmerga fighter poses with his weapon on the front line in Makhmur, Iraq. The Peshmerga are fighting to protect Kurdistan. (AFP/File)

The United States has signed an agreement with the Kurdish government in northern Iraq to give military and financial support to the Kurdish Peshmerga forces.

A military memorandum of accord (MOU) was signed on Tuesday between the U.S. Department of Defense and the Peshmerga Ministry at the government of Kurdistan to support the Kurdish forces in fighting Daesh in Iraq.

Iraqi Kurdistan's President Masoud Barzani received a United States military delegation headed by Elissa Slotkin, the acting assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs.

The meeting was followed by a telephone conversation between President Barzani and Mr. Ashton Carter, the U.S. Secretary of Defense.

Kurdish officials described the agreement as an important step towards a new phase of cooperation and coordination between the U.S. and Kurdistan.

Kifah Mahmoud, media advisor from Kurdistan's President Office, told Asharq al-Awsat newspaper that the MOU included financial and military support to the Peshmerga, namely military equipment, weapons and ammunition, as well as all equipment needed to fight the militant group.

He added that the signing of the agreement highlighted the major success achieved by President Barzani and the Peshmerga forces in fighting the largest extremist movement in the world.

Mahmoud also noted that the Kurdish Peshmerga forces have achieved many victories, which made them gain the international community's admiration and support. He added that the U.S.-Peshmerga agreement was the result of the Kurdish forces' success in fighting Daesh while persevering human and civilian rights and abiding by international conflict laws.

Asked about cooperation with the Iraqi government in Baghdad, Mahmoud told Asharq al-Awsat that the United States and the Peshmerga forces were in continuous cooperation with the Iraqi government to liberate the city of Mosul and to set a roadmap for a permanent collaboration between the Peshmerga, the Iraqi forces and international allies.

In comments to Asharq al-Awsat, the member of the defense and security parliamentary committee in Baghdad, Mohammed Al-Karbuli, said that despite the fact that the MOU was not officially discussed in Iraqi parliamentary meetings; Iraqi officials were well aware of the agreement and have held oral coordination with the Peshmerga in this regard.

Barzani and Slotkin discussed the liberation of Mosul and the status of preparations and readiness from U.S., Iraqi and Kurdistan Region perspectives, the Kurdistan Region Presidency said in a statement.

It added that Barzani focused on the importance and urgency of the liberation of Mosul and used the opportunity to reiterate his position of the extreme importance of planning for post-liberation of Mosul.

Meanwhile, a senior official at the Peshmerga ministry said that the agreement was considered as a major support to Kurdistan on the military, economic and political levels.

He added that according to the MOU, the U.S. would cover the salaries of Peshmerga forces and would provide them with weapons and military training.

The Peshmerga forces are one of the main partners of the U.S.-led coalition, who also receive weapons and ammunition from several coalition members, including the United States. The Kurdish forces could, within a period of two years, liberate around 95 percent of Kurdish areas that were seized by Daesh following the occupation of Mosul in the summer of 2014.

By Dalshad Abdullah 


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