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Official: Germany to provide budget to build hospital for Peshmerga

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The government of Germany will provide the budget for a 200-bed hospital for the Kurdistan Region’s Ministry of Peshmerga, a Kurdish military official said. The Deputy Chief of Staff in the Peshmerga Ministry, Qaraman Kamal, told NRT on Tuesday (May 23) several companies have put together plans for the Peshmerga forces’ military hospital. “A number of companies have prepared designs for the hospital”, Kamal added. “The best design will be chosen today”. Germany’s government will provide the budget for the hospital, which amounts to more than 5 million Euros (more than $5.624 million), according to the Peshmerga official. The hospital will be built in Erbil from the “best” design selected, the official noted. Kamal said the Ministry of Peshmerga will no longer have issues regarding wounded Peshmerga members after the hospital is built. There will be no need to send members of Peshmerga forces abroad for treatment. “We can bring medical experts from abroad to treat wounded Peshmerga if necessary”, he added, stating this would take less of the budget from the Peshmerga Ministry. Germany has been supporting and assisting the Peshmerga forces with weapons and military equipment in the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS). According to a defense ministry spokesman, Germany has delivered 70 tons of weapons, including 1,500 rifles, 100 shoulder-fired rockets and three armored vehicles, to the KRG.

High-level Kurdistan Region delegation to meet with security council in US

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Kurdish Chancellor Masrour Barzani is leading a high-level delegation this week to Washington, D.C., where they will meet principle members of the US National Security Council (NSC). “On Monday, Chancellor Barzani will lead a high-level delegation from the Kurdistan Region to meet principle members of the US National Security Council”, read a statement from the Kurdistan Region Security Council (KRSC). It is Barzani’s second official visit to Washington in the past six months and first since US President Donald Trump took office in January.  The Chancellor will underscore Kurdistan’s future bilateral relations with Iraq and the United States, read the statement. “Barzani will discuss the importance of continued US military and political support to the Kurdistan Region and its Peshmerga Forces”. The NSC is the White House’s primary advisory body on foreign and domestic security issues. Its members are selected by the current president and include Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Secretary of Energy Rick Perry. In addition to KRSC Chancellor Barzani, the Kurdish delegation includes Fuad Hussein, chief of staff to the Kurdish President, and the Kurdistan Regional Government’s representative to the United States, Her Excellency Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman. On Tuesday, Barzani will speak at the influential and conservative D.C. think tank, the Heritage Foundation. “Chancellor Barzani will also outline strategies to address Iraq’s unending conflict,” the Heritage Foundation wrote”. “[He] will give insights on the anti-ISIL campaign; immediate and long-term political challenges in Iraq and the broader Middle East”. Kurdistan’s Council of Ministers agreed to a joint Peshmerga and US proposed plan that seeks to unify and reorganize the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in the next ten years, a government official told Rudaw on Sunday. In March, the US State Department approved a possible sale of military equipment to the Peshmerga to an estimated cost of $295.6 million. Kurdish officials have also emphasized the need for addressing the defeat of ISIS beyond the battlefield.

US approves potential $295.6m weapons sale to Peshmerga

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The US State Department has approved a possible sale of military equipment to the Peshmerga to an estimated cost of $295.6 million. The sale would include equipment to fully outfit two Peshmerga light infantry brigades and two support artillery battalions, a statement from the Defense Security Cooperation Agency detailed on Wednesday. A wide range of equipment was requested for purchase, including machine guns, armoured vehicles, body armour, small arms, chemical weapon detection and protection equipment, medical equipment, MRAPs, and ambulances. The sale would assist in the defeat of ISIS, the statement said, adding it would not “alter the basic military balance in the region”. The sale has not been concluded as of yet.

Hundreds of displaced families return to their homes south of Kirkuk.

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Head of Peshmerga Frontlines for the south of Kirkuk, Wasta Rasul, told NRT that the first stage of returning internally displaced people (IDPs) who fled the fight against Islamic State (ISIS) has begun. Rasul added that the first stage included 600 families from Qaratapa village in the south of Kirkuk. “The people from areas where conflict has ended will be returned but they should promise the Peshmerga that they will assist [the Peshmerga]”, Rasul continued.Tens of thousands of people have been displaced south of Kirkuk due to the fight against ISIS. After fleeing, the IDPs settled in Kirkuk and other areas of the Kurdistan Region.

Kurdish Peshmergas attacked Islamic State’s headquarters

Media Official of Peshmerga forces in Sinjar District announced that the Kurdish forces attacked strongholds and headquarters of the Islamic State in the area.“Kurdish Peshmerga forces attacked three headquarters of the Islamic State in Rambousi Village and Telskuf area.” have said Khalil Shafan. “Last night, Peshmerga forces located members of the Islamic State in the areas of al-Baaj and al-Balij, where the militants were trying to flee toward Syria,” he further added and that the Kurdish security forces are waiting for President of Kurdistan Region, Masoud Barzani’s orders to liberate the remaining areas of Sinjar from ISIS control.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said: “No fighting between Arabs and Kurds, we decided to work together to safeguard everyone

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Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said that Peshmerga forces will return to the positions they were stationed at before the start of the Mosul liberation operation, in accordance with an agreement between Baghdad and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).The Peshmerga forces have moved several kilometers to help the Iraqi security forces during the operation to liberate the city of Mosul -“But the agreement was for them to return back to their previous positions,”- Abadi have said and added that -“President Barzani has said publicly they would respect this agreement; they will go back to their original line where they have started”- Meanwhile Peshmerga officials have shown a stance in opposition to the Peshmerga’s withdrawal, saying an agreement reached with the United States would see Peshmerga retain areas it liberated.
“No fighting between Arabs and Kurds, no fighting between Sunni and Shia. We decided to work together to safeguard everyone, to provide security,” is the final statement of the minister.

Peshmerga leaders will not enter Mosul, leaving the job to the Iraqi army

The International Rescue Committee said it had spoken to residents inside the besieged city, who had been stockpiling white cloths to wave in surrender when anti-Isis forces eventually enter the city. The IRC also said the old and infirm were struggling to breathe properly in Mosul because of the toxic smoke of oil fires. Peshmerga leaders have said they will not enter Mosul, leaving that role to the Iraqi army, which is anxious to use the campaign as a nation-building moment, two years after it too fled the area.

“They can have Mosul,” said one Peshmerga officer, three miles behind the front. “We don’t want it. All we want is the Kurdish land that Saddam took from us. After that, we can build a real country.”

Mission to retake Mosul begins. Gen. Townsend: "All troops are Iraqis"

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Following months of preparation, the Allies’ operation to retake Mosul from the grip of the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS) was finally launched on the very early hours of last monday. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi released an official announcement to government-dependent television station Al Iraqiya immediately after the last troops of the international coalition had been deployed to the outskirts of the second largest city in Iraq.
Whilst the Kurdish Peshmerga forces are stationed to the north and east of Mosul, with the goal of obstructing possible escape routes for IS’ militants, the Iraqi and international ground troops will advance from all sides besides the northern, also helped by local tribal fighters on the western front. The coalition headquarters is just south of the city: it will provide intel on the conflict and very precise indications on which targets the US-led airstrikes should hit inside Mosul.
The commander of the Joint Task Force Operation “Inherent Resolve”, Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, commented on the prospects of the battle and the role of the international coalition in support to the Iraqi forces, in a statement released by the U.S. Department of Defense. Townsend affirmed that the operation to regain control of Mosul will likely continue for weeks and possibly longer. But it comes after more than two years of ISIL oppression in Mosul, “during which they committed horrible atrocities [and] brutalized the people” after declaring the city to be one of their twin capitals, the general said in the statement. The coalition can’t predict how long it will take for the ISF to retake the city, “but we know they will succeed — just as they did in Beiji, in Ramadi, in Fallujah and, more recently in Qayyarah and Sharqat.” The OIR coalition will provide “air support, artillery, intelligence, advisors and forward air controllers,” Townsend said in the statement, adding that the supporting forces “will continue to use precision to accurately attack the enemy and to minimize any impact on innocent civilians.”
 
Townsend also addressed the very controvertial topic of the nationalities amongst the ground troops: “To be clear, the thousands of ground combat forces who will liberate Mosul are all Iraqis,” Townsend said in the statement”. Meanwhile, the start of the conflict has raised serious humanitarian concerns among many international organisations, such as the UN and UNICEF, and NGOs.
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