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German military help for Iraq?

October 4, 2014

Germany is considering establishing a training center for Kurdish forces fighting the "Islamic State" in northern Iraq. However, the plans still don't include joining an air campaign against the group.

A German soldier demonstrates a MILAN anti-tank rocket launcher that is part of a German military aid shipment for Kurdish forces in northern Iraq, at a storage facility of the Bundeswehr armed forces in Waren, north of Berlin. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
Image: REUTERS/Thomas Peter

Germany is planning to do more to help Kurdish and Iraqi troops fighting militants who have captured large amounts of territory in northern Iraq, the Defense Ministry announced on Saturday.

A ministry spokeswoman told the EPD news agency that plans were afoot to establish a military training center in Erbil, capital of the autonomous region of Kurdistan, for peshmerga soldiers involved in the conflict.

She said that the German government was also considering participating in a training facility for the Iraqi army, possibly in a neighboring country, in addition to dispatching additional military officers. The plans were announced on Friday at a briefing of parliament's Defense Committee by Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen, the spokeswoman said.

She said, however, that they did not cover possible support for a US-led campaign of airstrikes against the group in Iraq and Syria.

The announcement comes after the United States this week urged its allies to play a bigger role in the fight against the "Islamic State" fighters, who have recently made considerable gains in both countries.

The plans were agreed upon on Wednesday in consultation with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, sources said.

Germany's military is already supplying weapons to peshmerga forces, with 13 Bundeswehr soldiers in Erbil to give instruction in their use. In addition, since the end of September, a number of Kurdish soldiers have been receiving training at the infantry school of the German Bundeswehr in the Bavarian town of Hammelburg.

tj/mkg (dpa, epd)