Iran supplied weapons to Iraqi Kurdish forces: Barzani
ARBIL – Reuters
Barzani speaks during a joint press conference with Iranian FM Zarif following their meeting in Arbil. AFP Photo
Iran supplied weapons and ammunition to Iraqi Kurdish forces, Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) President Masoud Barzani said Aug. 25 at a joint press conference with Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Arbil.
"We asked for weapons and Iran was the first country to provide us with weapons," Barzani said.
Militants led by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) jihadist group launched a major offensive in June that overran large areas of Iraq, and began a renewed push earlier this month that saw Kurdish forces pushed back towards their regional capital of Arbil.
The Kurdish setbacks sparked a campaign of US air strikes in northern Iraq and an international effort to provide them with arms and ammunition, and they have since managed to claw back some territory from the militants.
Zarif, who arrived in Iraq on Sunday, reiterated his assertion that while Iran is supporting its neighbour to the west, it is not doing so with forces on the ground.
There have been reports of Iranian forces fighting in Iraq, and despite Zarif's denial, evidence points to a more direct military role by Tehran.
State media reported that an Iranian pilot was killed fighting in Iraq, and several Iranian Su-25 warplanes are also in the country.