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Germany: No additional arms to peshmerga 'for time being'

The Defense Ministry says it is not preparing additional weapon supplies to Kurdish peshmerga troops in northern Iraq. The Kurdish forces are involved in the newly launched operation to retake the city of Mosul.

"We have not planned any additional deliveries at present," a spokesman for Germany's Defense Ministry said hours after the launch of the Iraqi offensive to retake the northern city of Mosul from the "Islamic State" (IS) group.

But the spokesman added that the Bundeswehr was in constant contact with Kurdish peshmerga, the military force of the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan.

Early Monday, a force of around 30,000 troops - including 4,000 Kurdish peshmerga forces and with Sunni tribal fighters - began their advance to recapture the network's last major stronghold in Iraq. IS is estimated to have as many as 8,000 fighters in the city.

Strong Western support

Germany, along with the US and Britain, has been supplying the peshmerga with weapons and ammunition for the past two years, as the Kurdish forces struggle to reclaim large swaths of Iraq that were captured by IS.

Analysts said the peshmerga initially suffered heavy losses because of a lack of modern weapons and training.

The joint response has prevented the further advance of the extremists in northern Iraq while reclaiming key infrastructure, including oil fields, the Mosul Dam and the city of Tikrit.

Weaponry, expertise and training

By early October, 2,200-tons of German military equipment had arrived in Iraq, the Defense Ministry revealed. The equipment included "Milan" armored missiles and armored bombs, several thousand G36 and P1 guns and ammunition, and armored transporters.

Kurdish solders trained by the Bundeswehr

Thousands of Kurdish solders have been trained by the German Bundeswehr

Officials said Germany had also provided Kurdish forces with helmets, protective masks and medical supplies, as well as training, which takes place in the Iraqi Kurdistan capital, Irbil, and Germany.

In September, German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen revealed that the total value of military aid to Iraq - some sent to the Kurds and some to the Iraqi government in Baghdad - equated to roughly 90 million euros (around $99 million). Although Germany does send ancillary military equipment to the Iraqi government in Baghdad, it does not supply weapons.

Arms sold on

The decision has not been without controversy.  In January, it was revealed that some Kurdish fighters had sold their weapons after not being paid by the Iraqi Kurdistan government for months.

Responding to the launch of the offensive for Mosul on Monday, von der Leyen said she expected a "hard fight to drive IS out of Mosul."

"Our goal is to put an end to the people of Mosul's suffering at the hands of IS, and and to reinforce unity in Iraq via success in Mosul," she added.

Watch video 01:03

Iraq launches offensive to retake Mosul

mm/msh (Reuters, AFP)

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