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    Peshmerga fighters from Iraq take part in a training session of the German army Bundeswehr in Munster near Hannover, Germany, Tuesday, March 1, 2016

    'US and EU to Lift Kurdish Peshmerga Military Might to Global Level'

    © AP Photo / Michael Sohn
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    The United States, Britain and Germany have kicked off a new initiative aimed at arming and training Peshmerga military forces, General Helgurd Hikmet, an official representative of the Ministry of Peshmerga Affairs at the Kurdistan Regional Government, told Sputnik.

    The sources from the Iraqi Kurdish military units reported that the United States will provide $110 million worth of arms and ammunition for two battalions of Peshmerga, which are expected to be formed in the beginning of 2018.

    Speaking to Sputnik Turkey, General Helgurd Hikmet, an official representative of the Ministry of Peshmerga Affairs at the Kurdistan Regional Government, confirmed the reports.

    According to the sources, the US has also taken the responsibility of training the aforementioned military units. Given the cost of the training and other expenses, Washington is reportedly going to spend about $200 million on the two Peshmerga battalions. Weapons and ammunition will be delivered to the battalions in September 2017.

    The initiative aimed at equipping and arming the battalions is carried out as part of a joint effort by the US, UK and Germany to bring all Peshmerga military groups under the leadership of Iraqi Kurdistan's Ministry of Peshmerga Affairs.

    However, the major goal of the project supervised by Washington, London and Berlin is to lift Peshmerga military capabilities to a global level.

    In his interview with Sputnik, Helgurd Hikmet reaffirmed that the initiative is carried out jointly by the United States, Britain and Germany.

    "This training is conditioned by necessity," Hikmet told Sputnik. "It will make a significant contribution to maintaining and developing the military potential of the Peshmerga forces. It will also produce a positive effect on political and other affairs. This decision is of great importance as for both the Peshmerga units, and the entire [Iraqi] Kurdistan region."

    Meanwhile, the Iraqi Kurdistan leadership is seeking to hold an independence referendum in October/November 2017.

    "It will be held in fall. The exact date has not yet been determined, but in the fall, sometime in November, maybe even in October," a representative of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) in Russia, Hoshawi Babakr, told Sputnik on May 12.

    According to the Bas News media outlet, Kurdistan's President Masoud Barzani had already called on Kurdish political parties to nominate representatives to a joint committee engaged in independence efforts.

    Furthermore, it was reported in March that Kurdistan's leader had informed the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres about the referendum on gaining independence from Iraq.

    The Kurds are Iraq's largest ethnic minority. Iraqi Kurdistan, officially called the Kurdistan Region, was created in 1970 based on an agreement with the Iraqi government, ending years of fighting. It gained autonomous governance status as part of the 2005 constitution, but is still considered part of Iraq.

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    Tags:
    US foreign policy, US military aid, training, Peshmerga, Masoud Barzani, Antonio Guterres, Iraqi Kurdistan, Great Britain, Germany, Iraq, United States, Russia
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