The first delivery of German arms has landed in Iraq after a delay caused by technical difficulties. The delivery marks a departure from a post-war policy to not send arms to conflict zones.
German arms have arrived in Iraq, according to a report by the German news agency DPA. The weapons had been expected to arrive earlier, but faced a 12-hour delay due to technical difficulties. This comes after the arrival of Bundeswehr personnel to train local fighters to use the equipment.
The delivery of 27 tons of weapons and ammunition, which include 50 anti-tank rocket launchers, 520 rifles and 20 machineguns, arrived a few hours after German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen concluded her surprise visit to Iraq, where she vowed German support for Kurdish peshmerga fighters in the war against the self-proclaimed "Islamic State" (IS) terrorist group.
Von der Leyen held talks with Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani, who requested additional mine-seeking devices, saying "IS" had been laying landmines in the territory they've occupied. At a press conference, von der Leyen agreed to offer additional German support for this.
The arms arrived amid German self-criticism of the poor state of Bundeswehr equipment, mostly airplanes.
Germany plans to arm 10,000 peshmerga fighters with around 70 million euros ($89 million) of equipment.
The delivery of German weapons to a combat zone marks a departure from a post-WWII policy. Chancellor Angela Merkel said at the beginning of the month that arming peshmerga fighters was necessary to stop the "inconceivable atrocities" against civilians perpetrated by "IS" in Iraq and Syria.
"We have the opportunity to save lives and stop the further spread of mass murder in Iraq," Merkel told parliament during a 25-minute speech.
"We have the chance to prevent terrorists from creating another safe haven for themselves. We must take this chance."
sb/nm (dpa, AFP)