Kurdish fighters to receive military training in Germany

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Al-Akhbar Management

Published Monday, September 29, 2014

Germany's armed forces, the Bundeswehr, has started training Kurdish peshmerga fighters at an army college in Hammelburg, Bavaria.

A spokesman for the German defense ministry said Sunday that the 32 fighters would stay in Germany until October 3 to receive weapon training, including the use of anti-tank missiles.

In total, the German plan calls for arming 10,000 Kurdish fighters with some 70 million euros worth of weapons from Bundeswehr stocks.

“We now have the chance to save lives and prevent further mass killings,” German chancellor Angela Merkel said to the Bundestag, the national parliament.

“More than 400 Germans have already traveled to the region to fight alongside Islamic State (in Iraq ans Syria). We cannot ignore Islamic State Terror,” she added, using a term to refer to the group ISIS. Her statement came earlier this month as the preparations for the plan started.

On Thursday, Germany also began delivering arms to the Kurds in Iraq, dispatching a shipment of 50 hand-held anti-tank weapons, 520 G3 rifles and 20 machine guns.

According to the defense ministry, a second plane carrying weapons, equipment and vehicles has arrived in Erbil, northern Iraq.

The German government announced in August that it would send more than 600 tons of military equipment and weapons to the Iraqi Kurds, but ruled out joining airstrikes or sending troops to the region to fight ISIS militants which have killed thousands of people and displaced millions more in Iraq and Syria in a bid to establish a cross-border "caliphate."

Already a suppressed minority, the Kurds are facing a growing threat.

US-led airstrikes worsened the situation

ISIS fighters tightened their siege of the strategic town of Kobani on Syria's border with Turkey on Friday.

ISIS launched its assault on Kobani two weeks ago, besieging it from three sides. More than 140,000 Kurds have fled the town and surrounding villages, crossing into Turkey.

US-led airstrikes have targeted ISIS fighters elsewhere in Syria but some Kurdish military officials have said they have made the situation in Kobani more precarious, pushing the insurgents towards the Turkish border.

(Anadolu, Al-Akhbar)

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