The United States is giving some $250 million in military equipment to the Kurdistan Region’s Peshmerga ministry, the ambassador to Iraq announced in Erbil on Tuesday.
US Ambassador to Iraq Matthew Tueller toured Peshmerga warehouses in the company of Peshmerga Minister Shorsh Ismail.
“The equipment in these warehouses is just part of more than 100 vehicles, radios, and maintenance that the United States is providing the ministry at a cost of $250 million,” Tueller said in a joint press conference with Ismail. “This is a tangible symbol of our commitment to the people of Iraq and to the Iraqi Kurdistan Region.”
“Just as important as the equipment is the training that comes with it and it was wonderful to observe the soldiers in action before the official handover,” he added.
Ambassador Tueller praised the role of Peshmerga in the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS). “As we saw throughout the campaign against ISIS, the brave Peshmerga fighters were indispensable to Iraqi security and we’re grateful for the sacrifices they have made. The region is more secure because of their commitment and their courage,” he said.
Ismail thanked the US and other members of the Global Coalition against ISIS for their support and assistance in the war against ISIS.
“We always appreciate the Coalition, especially the US, aid and support, and we hope that this support and aid for Peshmerga continues because we all know that Daesh has not been defeated,” he said, using an Arabic acronym for ISIS.
ISIS was announced territorially defeated in Iraq in late 2017, but remnants of the group still carry out attacks, especially in areas disputed by Erbil and Baghdad. The Peshmerga minister warned ISIS has regrouped in these areas where there are security gaps and “gained new weapons to carry out a partisan fight against the Peshmerga and Iraqi army.”
Part of the equipment gifted by the Americans was handed over to Infantry Brigades 14 and 16 of the Peshmerga ministry, according to an official statement.
The equipment includes Humvees, ammunition, and uniforms, Rudaw’s Dlnia Rahman reported.
The US has provided military and financial aid as well as training to Peshmerga forces since 2014. It currently pays the Kurdistan Regional Government $20 million each month to pay the salaries of the Peshmerga.
The US is scaling back its presence in Iraq and will reduce the number of troops in the country from 5,200 to 3,000 this month. General Kenneth McKenzie, head of US Central Command, said the withdrawal was in recognition of “the great progress Iraqi forces have made.”
The US has also faced a backlash from Iraqi lawmakers after it killed an Iranian general and senior Iraqi militia commander in a drone strike in Baghdad in January. The Iraqi parliament passed a non-binding resolution calling on the US to leave and bases housing American soldiers have come under frequent rocket attack by unidentified groups.