The head of the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) Mission to the European Union told Kurdistan 24 on Saturday that the KRG was pleased with the decision to include Kurdish Peshmerga forces in the new NATO training mission in Iraq.
Although he said the details of the mission are not clear yet, Delavar Ajgeiy did specify that the issue of training Peshmerga was discussed in a high-level meeting at the July NATO summit in Brussels.
“What I learned from the meeting [is] that the issue of Peshmergas and their role in the fight against ISIS (IS) has been one of the main issues. We are looking forward and we are very satisfied with the decision of NATO,” he said.
“All member states are supporting the idea of Peshmerga to be included in the project. So, it’s decided and we are now waiting for the mechanism on how they are going to implement it."
In response to a question from Kurdistan 24 during a July 12 press conference at the Brussels summit, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, confirmed that Peshmerga were indeed being included in the new NATO mission in Iraq.
Before the decision was made, the KRG lobbied in Brussels to make sure the Kurdish forces would be part of the new mission, to be led by Canada.
A NATO press officer referred to an earlier statement by Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg from June, in which he confirmed NATO-allies' continued cooperation with Peshmerga.
“We are invited to be there by the Iraqi government and we will work with Iraqi government forces. At the same time, several NATO Allies are also providing training for the Peshmerga and several NATO Allies have stated clearly that they will continue to provide training,” read the statement.
“So, NATO Allies and the Coalition provide training for Peshmerga and for the government forces. NATO as an Alliance is providing training for the government forces."
Italy, which currently leads the Kurdistan Training Coordination Center (KTCC) in Erbil, recently confirmed that they will continue training Peshmerga as well
The NATO mission does not share the same goals as the US-led coalition against the Islamic State (IS). NATO will provide training that will function “in coordination with CJTF-OIR and does not replace it,” Pentagon Spokesman, Sean Robertson, told Kurdistan 24 previously.
Said NATO's Secretary General at the Brussels summit, "The best way to prevent NATO and NATO Allies being forced back into combat operations in Iraq, fighting Daesh [IS] or any other kinds of terrorist groups, is to make sure that the Iraqi government, the Iraqi forces, are able to prevent Daesh (IS) from coming back."