German Deputy Defence Minster Visits Peshmerga Training in Erbil / Herr Gruebel in Erbil

12 April 2015 – BasNews / MESOP – On a visit to an urban warfare training camp German Deputy Defence Minister Markus Gruebel has spoken about a new shipment of weapons to Iraq.

Gruebel watched as German military advisors put Peshmerga fighters through their paces in a simulated urban warfare exercise. The unit is in the last week of a four week training course being delivered by members of the international coalition. Speaking to journalists after the exercise, the German Deputy Defence Minister explained the latest aid his country is providing the Kurdistan Region.

“We have come to the Kurdistan Region and have been asked how Germany can help. We are helping by training the Peshmerga forces as well as providing them with weapons and ammunition. We are training Peshmerga fighters on the use of anti-tank MILAN rocket systems as well as battlefield first aid, de-mining and finally logistics. Germany has also helped other countries transfer weapons and ammo to the Kurdistan Region by using our aircraft.”

The MILAN system has been extremely successful for the Kurds, with Peshmerga Captain Mohammed telling BasNews that he had witnessed a vehicle-born IED continue towards a Peshmerga frontline even after it had taken 10 direct hits from rocket propelled grenades. When the MILAN was deployed, however, the VBIED was instantly destroyed. Gruebel explained, “The 30 MILAN systems and 500 rockets were gifted, not paid for. The second donation will be the same. “There will be more G3 rifles and ammunition for the G3 and G36 we have already delivered. There will be equipment delivered to the Iraqi government, for example mine detecting devices.”

Asked if Germany would consider arming the Peshmerga directly, he said, “All the equipment will be delivered to Erbil via Baghdad at the end of April. We support the autonomy of the Kurdistan Region, within a sovereign Iraq. In Germany we have good experience of federalism with strong regions.” The Kurdistan Region and Iraq will only receive the aid required in the fight against Islamic State (IS), Grueber warned. “We supply weapons for a direct need, and not for stockpiling, in case of an attack by the enemy [and looting of arms]. Every weapon must be used by the Peshmerga for fighting. “The German people are happy as long as these weapons are for the freedom of Kurdistan and Iraq.”Finally the Deputy Minister thanked Kurdistan for its response to the crisis that has engulfed Iraq since 2014 and the wider region over the last four years. “We are very grateful for the Peshmerga’s willingness to fight IS and Kurdistan’s help in providing a safe place for 1.5m refugees and internally displaced people. All of this proves that supporting the KRG was the correct decision by the German government.”