ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – The US-led coalition will continue to support the Peshmerga despite the result of the Kurdistan Region’s upcoming independence referendum, a US army official said on Friday.
Speaking to Kurdistan 24 during a live broadcast, Colonel Ryan Dillon, the Spokesperson for the US-led coalition against the Islamic State (IS), said the coalition has “great respect” for the Kurdish forces battling the extremist group.
“We, as a coalition, continue to support and train the Peshmerga who have played a vital role in the defeat of [IS] throughout Iraq,” Dillon said.
Since the beginning of the coalition’s campaign against the militant group in Iraq, they have trained 22,000 Peshmerga troops, according to the Colonel.
“We will continue to do so until told otherwise,” he added. “But, that support continues. We’ve had a great respect for the Peshmerga forces.”
The US army official also underlined the coalition’s backing of the Kurdish-led offensive in neighboring Syria where the People’s Protection Units (YPG) are battling IS in Raqqa.
Dillon said the coalition’s focus was on supporting the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), spearheaded by the YPG, with their fight against the extremists.
“Right now, we are currently at about 55 to 60 percent of the city center [in Raqqa] that has been cleared,” he told Kurdistan 24.
Meanwhile, the Colonel said the coalition provides aerial support, an advisory role, and precision ground artillery strikes against IS in Iraq’s Tal Afar.
Iraq forces launched the Tal Afar offensive on Aug. 20, a month after Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced victory in Mosul.
The latest map revealing the progress of the campaign shows that over 70 percent of the town has been liberated with only 30 percent under the control of the militant group.