Germany 'will take part in the battle for Mosul'

Germany 'will take part in the battle for Mosul'
Germany opened two training centres for Peshmerga forces near Erbil in June. On Friday Defence Minister Ursula von der Leven visited to check on progress.
2 min read
24 September, 2016
Germany will be providing support for the push on Mosul [Getty]

On Friday Germany’s defence minister visited a German-run Peshmerga training base in Erbil in a sign of growing German logistical support for the Kurdish Iraqi force.

During the diplomatic visit to the Bnaslawa military base Ursula von der Leven met with Peshmerga offiials and soldiers receiving training from German military officials and pledged that German Tornado reconnaissance planes would participate in a looming offensive against Islamic State forces in the city of Mosul.

“Until now, we have armed 10,000 Peshmerga soldiers and we continue to supply the Peshmerga with logistical needs,” said von der Leven, in comments published in Rudaw, a Kurdish news website, adding that “Tornado warplanes will take part in the battle for Mosul and help the Peshmerga forces.”

Peshmerga forces put on a show for the visiting German defence minister in order to showcase urban warfare techniques picked up from their German trainers.

Germany opened two military training facilities near Erbil in July. The “German Village” training centre includes custom-made buildings, tunnel systems, and a river built in order to simulate real-life combat situations. The “Ghost House” training centre is aimed at providing Peshmerga forces with advanced urban warfare skills.

Last December Germany’s parliament voted to join the US-led coalition fighting against IS and has contributed six Tornado reconnaissance jets and 1,200 military personnel. It doesn’t however carry out airstrikes.

In contrast to many countries who have provided support to Kurdish forces battling IS who go through the Iraqi central government in Baghdad, Germany is one of few countries supplying the Peshmerga directly through Erbil.

Both the Iraqi army and the Peshmerga, in addition to a number of Shia and tribal-levied militias are currently preparing for a large-scale offensive in Mosul which fell to IS in June 2014.

The UN has warned that a quick-fire attack on the city could create a “humanitarian catastrophe” as the agency is desperately building shelters and currently lacks the capacity to provide accommodation for the estimated 700,000 people expected to flee Mosul in the case of an attack.

Speaking to The New Arab Bruno Geddo, the UNHCR’s representative in Iraq, said that “the sheer magnitude of the numbers coming out of Erbil will create big problems.”