Germany rules out sending arms to Kurds in Iraq

Berlin says it remains committed to principle of not supplying arms to conflict zones

Berlin says it remains committed to principle of not supplying arms to conflict zones

BERLIN – The German government has ruled out supplying arms to Iraq's Kurds in their fight against the militants of the self-proclaimed Islamic State.

The comment came on Monday after armed groups linked to the Islamic State - formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, - last week captured the Iraqi towns of Sinjar and Rabia in Nineveh province after intense clashes, forcing thousands of Iraqis including Turkmen, Arabs and Ezidis to flee.

German government spokesman Steffan Seibert said: “The government remains committed to the principle of not supplying any arms to war and conflict zones."

“Our focus is to supply as quickly as possible concrete humanitarian aid to the people there who are in dire need.”

Seibert said the German government had increased its spending on humanitarian aid to the northern Iraq region to €4.4 million ($5.9 million).

Meanwhile, the president of the Kurdish Regional Government, Massoud Barzani, called on European countries on Sunday to help Peshmerga forces with heavy armaments and armored vehicles.  

- Fierce clashes

Karl-Georg Wellmann, a senior lawmaker from Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party Christian Democratic Union (CDU), urged stronger support for Iraqi Kurds.

“We must support the Kurds in their fight against an emerging terrorist state, and supply them with what they need,” he told public radio DLF.

Earlier, August Hanning, a former director of German secret service BND, urged the government to supply arms to Iraqi Kurdish groups.

“Only words do not help. German government should rapidly supply Kurds with modern arms systems,” Hanning told Bild am Sonntag weekly on Sunday.

Iraqi Kurdish security forces, known as Peshmerga, reportedly seized control of the northern Kurdish town of Makhmur in Erbil province on August 10, following three days of fierce clashes with insurgents affiliated with the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS) militants.

Kurdish offensives, which were supported by other armed Kurdish groups including the Kurdistan Workers' Party and Syrian-based Kurdish Popular Protection Units (YPG), forced IS militants to withdraw from the town after suffering heavy casualties, leaving their vehicles and equipment behind.

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