ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan24) – France continues to provide military support to Peshmerga forces in addition to its participation in the international coalition, a Kurdish official said on Tuesday.
French Defense Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, made an unannounced visit to Erbil on Monday evening.
Kurdistan Region Deputy Peshmerga Minister, Anwar Haji Osman, welcomed the French Minister's visit to Erbil. “Le Drian’s visit to the Kurdistan Region comes at the right time. France, aside from its involvement in the international coalition aid, provides military support to Peshmerga forces in the fight against Da’esh,” he said, using the Arabic pejorative word for the Islamic State (IS).
In a statement to journalists, Le Drian explained the purpose of his visit to the Region. “I visited Erbil to thank the French military trainers and advisers in the Kurdistan Region,” he said.
“I also came here to meet with the Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani and Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani to reiterate the support of France to Peshmerga forces in the fight against Da’esh,” Le Drian added. “The Peshmerga plays an important role in this fight.”
In a statement to the French advisers, Le Drian pointed out that France has clear evidence regarding the use of chlorine gas by IS militants against Peshmerga forces.
Additionally, the French Minister and his accompanied delegates met President Masoud Barzani and PM Nechirvan Barzani separately in Erbil. According to the Kurdistan Region Presidency Press Office, Le Drian praised the role of Peshmerga in defeating IS and also noted that IS is a threat to the entire world, not only for the Kurdistan Region and the Middle East.
Le Drian added that France understands the current financial crisis in Kurdistan. He expressed his country’s support to Peshmerga and stated that France will participate in the military operation of liberating Mosul from IS in northern Iraq, which is planned to take place in 2016.
President Masoud Barzani thanked France for aiding Peshmerga and stated that the extremists are a threat to humanity.
Moreover, PM Nechirvan Barzani called upon France and other members of the international coalition to ensure that Peshmerga receives its share of military equipment when weapons are sent to Iraq.
Le Drian promised that he would deliver the Region’s message to the French President and noted that the Kurdistan Region will receive more military aid from Paris in June.
The Kurdistan Region shares over 1,000 kilometers (622 miles) of its border with IS. Peshmerga has been one of the most efficient ground forces in defeating the terrorist group. However, they continue to suffer the lack of military and financial support from the international coalition. Kurdish officials often call for more supplies of weapons and ammunition.
The conditions of refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the Region was also discussed between Kurdish officials and Le Drian. The French Minister said that Kurdistan needs substantial humanitarian aid as it struggles with a critical financial crisis while housing almost two million refugees and IDPs.
Reporting by Mewan Dolamari
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany and Ava Homa