Britain sends army trainers to Iraq to help Kurdish peshmerga fighters
LONDON - Reuters
A German military expert (L) speaks with Kurdish Peshmerga fighters during training at a shooting range in Arbil, the capital of the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq. Britain has joined Germany announcing it will deploy a team of army trainers to Iraq to train the peshmergas. AFP PhotoBritain said on Oct. 12 it had deployed a team of army trainers to Iraq to help Kurdish peshmerga fighters maintain and use heavy machineguns against militants of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
Britain announced the move as Kurdish fighters battling ISIL militants in the besieged Syrian town of Kobani called on Turkey to open up corridors to allow volunteer fighters and weapons to enter to reinforce their out-gunned forces.
Britain's Ministry of Defence said the team, which local media reports said was 12-strong, had deployed to Erbil for around a week to help Kurdish fighters operate the guns which Britain gifted to them last month.
"We are continuing to scope assistance to the Iraqi security forces, further training teams addressing soldiering skills, medical and counter-explosive device knowledge will follow," the ministry said in a statement.
A spokeswoman stressed the army trainers were fulfilling a non-combat role. Although Britain's parliament has sanctioned the Royal Air Force taking part in air strikes on ISIL militants inside Iraq, Prime Minister David Cameron has repeatedly said there was no question for now of deploying ground forces.