Germany mulls expanding military support to Iraqi Kurds
BERLIN – Anadolu AgencyThe German government is considering expanding its military support to Iraqi Kurds in their fight against the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), Defense Ministry sources confirmed to national media on Oct. 4.
Germany is currently studying plans to open a military training center in Erbil, in northern Iraq in order to provide military training to Kurdish Peshmerga forces as well as to Iraqi soldiers, German news agency dpa reported, based on information from parliamentary sources. It also plans to send high ranking military advisers to Iraq to support military command in operations against the ISIL.
German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen informed lawmakers of the defense committee at the federal parliament last week on the ongoing plans, the report said.
N24 news channel reported that the German army was also considering providing military training to Christian and Yezidi forces fighting against the ISIL.
The U.S. has asked its allies last week to provide the coalition with more support in order to better fight the ISIL.
The German government already decided in August to supply military goods - arms and ammunition - to Iraqi Kurds but ruled out sending troops to the region to fight against the ISIL. Germany is not participating in the U.S.-led coalition's airstrikes against the ISIL in Syria and Iraq.
A recent public poll by Germany's public television ARD showed that 58 percent of Germans were against the Merkel government's decision to supply weapons to Iraqi Kurds, while 38 percent expressed support for it.
German government officials have advocating in recent months a more active foreign policy, supported by military measures, stressing Germany's responsibility for international peace and stability.
Germany is currently providing military training and arms to Iraqi Kurds to support them in their fight against the ISIL. German military aid consists of arms for more than 4,000 Peshmerga troops, including 4,000 G3 rifles, one million rounds of ammunition, 30 Milan anti-tank systems, 500 anti-tank missiles.
Last week, 32 Kurdish Peshmerga troops received training in a military base in the south of Germany. Currently, 13 German soldiers are stationed in Erbil, and seven of them are responsible for coordinating the shipment of German military aid to northern Iraq. Six German paratroopers are providing training to Peshmerga forces.