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Germany demands explanation after Kurdish arms sales reports

Berlin has asked autonomous Kurdish representatives to explain possible sales of German weapons in northern Iraq. German military has supplied the anti-IS militia with arms, but a report alleges the fighters resold them.

"We have asked the representative of the regional [Kurdish] government to come to the foreign ministry," spokesman Martin Schaefer told journalists on Friday. "We expect the Kurdistan government and peshmerga officials to work with speed and determination to address these accusations," Schaefer added, referring to the Kurdish militia by its regional name.

Schaefer said if such practices were confirmed, "they must stop immediately and completely."

German leaders have demanded an explanation aftera report by public broadcasters WDR and NDR said Bundeswehr assault rifles and pistols were being sold in weapons markets in Iraq. The arms had been given to the Kurdish militia to aid in their fight against the "Islamic State."

No evidence of misuse

According to the German Defense Ministry, there was evidence that at least two of the weapons mentioned in the report were from a 2014 supply, spokesman Jens Flosdorff said. However, there was no evidence of a "systematic misuse," he added.

Irak Erbil Peschmerga Ausbildung

Women are part of the Kurdish peshmerga army fighting in northern Iraq and parts of Syria

Flosdorff said the German defense ministry had given 20,000 machine guns and 8,000 pistols to the peshmerga. No one could guarantee complete control considering the number of weapons and the area across which they were scattered, Flosdorff told journalists. The next cache of weapons was to be delivered at the end of March, he added.

Meanwhile, politicians in Germany's opposition parties said their fears regarding weapons deliveries had come true. "People in Iraq do not need more weapons but comprehensive political and economic support," the Greens' security spokeswoman Agniezka Brugger said. Leftist party, "Die Linke's" Alexander Neu expressed concerns that the IS could get hold of the weapons.

Germany's public broadcasters NDR and WDR reported on Thursday that several G3 assault rifles and a P1 pistol, engraved with the initials "Bw" for Bundeswehr, or the German army, were found in the northern Iraqi cities of Irbil and Sulaymaniyah.

According to investigations by the journalists, peshmerga fighters sold their weapons after not being paid for several months because of Iraq's poor financial situation.

mg/kms (dpa, AFP)

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