US to study air defense systems for Kurdistan Region: former Coalition spox
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Retired US Army Col. Myles B. Caggins III, a former spokesman for the US-led Coalition in Iraq and a senior fellow at the New Lines Institute for Strategy and Policy, on Friday gave an exclusive interview with Kurdistan 24 in which he touched upon many pressing issues.
Regarding the presence of ISIS in Syria, Caggins III revealed that the international Coalition is working with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to address the ongoing threat of ISIS radicalization in camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs).
“There are ten thousand ISIS fighters detained in northern east Syria and they are in more than 20 camps and then we have about fifty thousand ISIS family members in al-Hol and Al Roj Camps,” he said and noted, “The US and the Coalition are helping the SDF with financial assistance, training for the Asayish and also medical assistance.”
“The children’s number one influence are their mothers and so the mothers are infecting their minds with ISIS ideology,” he stated.
Concerning a potential conflict between the US and Iran and the recent influx of US troops in Iraq, Caggins III reaffirmed that there would be no war between Iran and the US and called it an "absolute rumor."
“What has happened is we’ve had a normal transition of American troops replacing one group. We had one group from Ohio and they have been replaced by a group from New York. During that transition, we had a temporary increase in the number of troops as the new soldiers came in, old soldiers go out, but there is no desire for the US to have a war with Iran,” he reiterated.
Moreover, the top US official signaled that the US Congress has prepared legislation to extend its provisions for continued support for the Peshmerga for one year.
“The US is supporting the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) decision to unify the Peshmerga, but right now what we found is that there are political groups that are resisting this unification. I want to tell your viewers the unification of the peshmerga is good for Kurdistan Region,” the retired colonel underlined.
Furthermore, he emphasized that "unification will make the Peshmerga stronger and it will lead to a centralized command structure, leading to reduced costs for logistics supplies. And unification will ensure that there is electronic banking and the peshmerga are paid as they should be paid.”
Meanwhile, he stated that “as part of the military funding legislation, the US is going to study air defense systems for Iraq and the Kurdistan Region. These air defense systems would protect the region from ballistic missiles from Iran.”
“Some of the influences from Iran in Baghdad believe that these systems are designed to attack Iran. That is not true. The US wants the Kurdistan Region and all of Iraq to be a place where foreign people can come here and feel safe and comfortable and most importantly there can be foreign investment including foreign companies that are working in the oil industry,” Caggins III affirmed.