President Barzani receives German’s Minister of Defense
Despite sending military weapons, the Kurds complain the quality and quantity of the weapons. The Kurdish Peshmarga is the only ground troop fighting Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
Kurdistan Regional President Massoud Barzani received Germany’s Minister of Defense Ursula von der Leyen as Berlin sends arms to help Kurdish Peshmarga forces in the fight against Islamic State (IS) militants.
The President complained about the quality of the materiel sent so far by international partners, and heartily welcomed the newly-arrived supply.
“I am going to convey to the Kurds our absolute respect, and that they are the ones who rose up against ISIS,” Leyen told the German press in anticipation of the visit.
Germany's armed forces, the Bundeswehr, started flying weapons to Iraqi Kurds early morning Thursday - an operation that it says will eventually see it equip around 10,000 Kurdish fighters with 70 million euros of weapons, Anadolu agency reported.
This breaks a post-World II taboo on sending weapons to active conflict zones.
“We are involved with relief shipments and the airlift, but we know that this is not sufficient, much more is needed to get these thousands of people, here alone ten thousands in a very confined space and more than a million in the entire region, through the winter,” said von der Leyen at a press conference with Kurdistan Regional President Massoud Barzani.
During her visit, the minister met the Archbishop of the Chaldean Catholic Church. The cathedral is currently being used as a haven for displaced Christians who have fled ISIL militants in the region.
According to a statement on the Bundeswehr's website, among the 25 tons of cargo on board the 2 a.m. Royal Netherlands Air Force KDC-10 were 50 bazookas and ammunition, 520 G3 rifles and 20 type MG3 machine guns.
It said that the flight arrived around 3 a.m. at the British base of Akrotiri in Cyprus.
The shipment - the second of which should follow in October - also includes medical equipment for first aid personnel and 4.000 thousand protective goggles.
By the end of the operation, Germany anticipates around 10,000 Kurdish fighters to be equipped with around 70 million euros of weapons from Bundeswehr stocks, according to the statement.
The German government announced in August that it would send more than 600 tons of military equipment and weapons to the Kurds, but ruled out joining airstrikes or sending troops to the region to fight IS militants which have killed thousands of people and displaced millions more in Iraq and Syria in a bid to establish a cross-border "caliphate."
The operation was coor- dinated by the European Air Transport Command (EATC) in Eindhoven.
Bundeswehr official Lieutenant Colonel Klaus Brandel told the Anadolu Agency last week that the armed forces would also give arms training to about 30 Kurdish Peshmarga in Germany.
German military assists continue until IS destroy
Germany will continue to provide weapons and military training to Kurdish Peshmarga troops until the Islamic State is completely destroyed, German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen has said.
Leyen said that Germany had sent explosives and bomb disposal equipment for the first time to the Kurdish region on Thursday, in a joint press conference with President Massoud Barzani.
Leyen said: "IS equips the places it seizes with bomb set-ups (explosive devices).
"This equipment will be used to defuse these explosives and speed up the process for people to return home."
Emphasizing that the KRG is now hosting more than one million refugees from Iraq and Syrian Kurdish regions, Leyen said the administration needed more humanitarian aid than it had already received.
Barzani expressed content over the U.S. led airstrikes in the Syrian Kurdish city of Kobani.
He said KRG was unable to send any Peshmarga troops to Kobani, because of "geographical limitations".
Kurdistan Regional President Massoud Barzani shakes hand with German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen in surprise visit of the German Minister to Erbil, capital of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, on Thursday September 25, 2015.
German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen speaks in a press conference with Kurdistan Regional President Massoud Barzani in Erbil, capital of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, on Thursday September 25, 2014. The German Minister stressed that her country would support Kurdistan even after defeating Islamic State (ISI).