Hungary to start training Kurdish Peshmerga forces: ministry

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region - Hungary will start a new training initiative for Kurdish Peshmerga forces, two days after the global coalition against the Islamic State (ISIS) ended their combat mission in Iraq, shifting its role to military advising, training, and intelligence gathering.

Hungary’s “cooperation and support to the Peshmerga will continue and it was decided to start training the Peshmerga through their military advisers,” the ministry of Peshmerga said in a statement on Saturday. 

Peshmerga minister Shorsh Ismail welcomed senior Hungarian officials including lieutenant general Romulusz Ruszin-Szendi, the Hungarian commander-in-chief, Colonel Hadi, head of the Hungarian coordination team at the General Consulate in Erbil, in addition to Attila Tar, the Hungarian ambassador in Iraq.

“The Peshmerga minister praised the role of Hungary and the military forces of that country, which were a supporter of the Kurdistan Peshmerga forces during the ISIS war, and reiterated that we need the cooperation and support of all sides in the challenges that have now come forward to stop and eliminate terrorist threats,” added the statement.

As a member of the global anti-ISIS coalition, Hungary has provided millions of rounds of ammunition and medical treatment for injured Peshmerga - and has also assisted with training Peshmerga forces. 

Iraq announced the end of the US combat mission in the country on Thursday. The top US commander for the Middle East General Frank McKenzie said in an interview with AP on Thursday that they will still provide air support and other military aids in Iraq’s fight against ISIS.

“They actually want all US forces to leave, and all US forces are not going to leave,” McKenzie said, referring to pressure from pro-Iranian groups and paramilitary militias in recent months demanding that US troops leave the country. 

Several Iraqi and Kurdish officials have said Iraq still needs the assistance of the US-led coalition against ISIS.  

The end of the US combat mission in Iraq comes as ISIS attacks increase, threatening civilian lives and terrorizing Kurdish and Iraqi fighters. The terror group has killed 22 Peshmerga members and two Iraqi soldiers since November 27.

Kurdistan Region’s Vice President Sheikh Jaafar Sheikh Mustafa called on the coalition forces for help earlier this month, asking the coalition to help whether it’s by “returning their fighting forces to help … returning their air support” or training Peshmerga and providing equipment. 



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