Kurdish regional government ready to send more forces to Kobani
Kurdistan Regional Government says heavy weapons needed to take offensive to ISIL.

Additional Kurdish peshmerga forces are prepared to reinforce forces defending the besieged Syrian town of Kobani, the top foreign policy official for Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government said Monday.

Falah Mustafa Bakir told The Anadolu Agency that the KRG is prepared to send additional troops "if needed,” following public remarks at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

Bakir thanked Turkey for its role in facilitating the movement of an initial convoy of peshmerga fighters into Kobani, saying, "This has proven that we are all together in fighting ISIS and we all have a shared interest. ISIS is a threat to all of us, and we all have to work together in order to defeat them,” using an alternative name for ISIL.

The convoy of fighters and heavy weapons crossed the Syrian border from Turkey on Friday to reinforce Kurdish People’s Protection Units that have been fighting back an ISIL offensive there since mid September.

Iraqi Kurdish forces have been involved in fierce clashes with the militants since ISIL swept across large swaths of northern Iraq in June, seizing the country’s second largest city and sending Iraqi security forces into disarray.

The peshmerga were instrumental in retaking the strategic Mosul dam from ISIL in August, and have worked to defend against successive advances – at the dam and elsewhere.

"In all of the areas that ISIS gained control, we have regained control over most of the territory that was lost to them, and that shows the determination of the Kurdish people, of the Kurdish peshmerga forces, and we will do it until we achieve all of our objectives,” Bakir said.

"The peshmerga are a source of real pride,” he added. "They are brave. They are dedicated. They have challenged Sadaam Hussein’s regime. They did not surrender to it. And it would be impossible for them to surrender to the will of these terrorist groups.”

The foreign minister added that the Kurdistan Regional Government is "not ready to go back to pre-June Iraq” – an apparent reference to the administration gaining control of the oil-rich city of Kirkuk as Iraqi security forces retreated that month.

"Today in Kurdistan we want to exercise more political power, more economic power and more sovereignty,” he told the audience during public remarks.

Under Article 140 of the Iraqi constitution, the status of the city was supposed to be determined by referendum. The oft-delayed poll has yet to be held.

Bakir reiterated calls for the international community to supply peshmerga with heavy weaponry in addition to continued US-led airstrikes, saying the weapons are vital in any efforts to move from repelling attacks to an offensive against the militants.

He told AA that he thinks it's only "a matter of time” before the forces receive the weapons they need, saying that Kurdish Iraqi officials are working with the central government in Baghdad "because sometimes that was also an issue.”

"We hope that we will be able to address these issues so that the peshmergas will get the heavy weaponry.”

Led by shadowy cleric Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, ISIL is seeking to establish a transnational caliphate, or Islamic state, that currently straddles Iraq and Syria. The group is accused of heinous war crimes, including selling women into the sex trade, and targeting religious minorities who are unable to flee their advances.

"The attempts at genocide, especially at the Yazidi Kurds, and the Christian community and the Shabak – it was shocking to us to see a terrorist group come and be there in order to implement the principles of medieval ages," he told the audience. "That was too much for us."

Last Modified: 2014-11-05 09:12:55
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