ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said on Thursday that Kurdish Peshmerga forces are a part of Iraq and that any national military training will include them.
“Now, we are paying the salaries of the Peshmerga from the Iraqi budget which means that they are under a unified Iraqi security force. Any training to Iraqi security forces will include the Peshmerga as well,” Abadi said in response to a question of Kurdistan 24 Correspondent Barzan Hassan at the NATO summit in Brussels.
Peshmerga have been one of the most efficient ground troops in defeating the Islamic State (IS) in Iraq. Since the emergence of the group in 2014, about 2,000 Peshmerga had been killed and 12,000 more wounded fighting them, according to the Kurdistan Region’s Peshmerga Ministry.
Despite the economic crisis and chronic salary delays, Peshmerga and other Kurdish security forces have been highly successful in defending the semi-autonomous region from the attacks of the jihadist group over the past three years.
During that time, Kurdish officials have repeatedly complained to Baghdad about its failure to deliver arms to Peshmerga as well as preventing the US-led coalition from sending weapons and ammunition to the Kurdistan Region as part of the military campaign to defeat IS.
Regarding the existence of any agreement between Iraq and NATO, Abadi told Kurdistan 24 that they had requested the organization’s help in defeating terrorism in the country.
“With NATO, there was an agreement in the last two years, or last year in particular, where we have requested the presence of NATO in Iraq to help - to train Iraqi forces. This is for non-combatant forces, only for training and logistical support. And we welcome them in Iraq,” he added.
“We are in the Middle East… and next-door to Europe. So we must cooperate and work together to defeat terrorism and train our forces.”
Abadi declared a military victory over Iraq in last December but since then, IS has waged an insurgency by staging multiple bombings, killings, and kidnappings in several provinces.
Also on Thursday at the NATO Summit, US president Donald Trump responded to a question by Kurdistan 24 about future US support for Kurdistan by saying, “I think the Kurds are great people, they are incredible fighters, they are wonderful, warm, intelligent allies in many cases, as you know, it’s different groups of people. But they are great people, I do believe they are great people.”
Editing by John J. Catherine