British MP calls for more support to Kurdish Peshmerga forces

Kurdish soldiers of the Peshmerga entering the Yezidi region of Shingal after expelling ISIS from the area in northern Iraq. Photo: ARA News

ARA News 

ERBIL – A British MP has called for more medical support to the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in the war against the radical group of Islamic State (ISIS) in northern Iraq.

“We face a generational struggle with Islamist jihadism but have strong allies in the Muslim world. Foremost are the Kurds whose Peshmerga are fighting and dying to wrest back territory from the so-called Islamic State (Daesh) and crucial to liberating its “capital” of Mosul,” said Jack Lopresti, a British MP for Filton and Bradley Stoke, and chief of defence of the 1922 Committee.

“Two years ago, Britain supplied just forty heavy calibre machine guns that can do that. Other countries supplied more such kit but the Peshmerga need more to defend a 650-mile front. The armour piercing ammunition for our guns ran out a year ago and it took a huge effort by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and MPs to persuade the Government to send fresh supplies, without which the guns are merely decorative.” The MP said.

“Given the superior firepower of Daesh and their prowess in seeding villages with booby traps before leaving, the casualty rate has been very high for the Peshmerga. Nine thousand have been injured and nearly two thousand have been killed,” he added.

Although Britain has provided training in demining and in battlefield medical treatment, Kurdish Peshmerga fighters continue to die of injuries that could become less fatal due to treatment in field hospitals and surgical teams on the frontline.

In June, Colonel Stewart, the former commander of British forces in Bosnia, asked the UK Defence Minister to give a small number of the most seriously wounded Peshmerga soldiers free specialist beds at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham.

“The minister brushed this off by saying ministers would support such cases on merit and that in the past limited treatment in the UK to foreign nationals has only been offered in “very exceptional circumstances.”,” Lopresti said.

In his final appearance before the UK parliament as Prime Minister, David Cameron two weeks ago praised the Kurds in Iraq and Syria for being ‘incredibly brave fighters’, and said that he will look into providing beds in the Birmingham hospital to help seriously injured Kurdish fighters.

“Having visited the Peshmerga on the frontline, I know that our airstrikes, weapons and training are crucial, but Peshmerga injuries could be reduced with additional equipment such as body armour, respirators and front-line medical facilities, and we possibly could provide some beds in our specialist hospital in Birmingham to the most seriously injured,” Lopresti said.

“The Peshmerga will certainly be sticking at it and will stay the course but warm words of solidarity should become specific commitments. I am urging the new Prime Mminister and the Secretary of State for Defence to urgently accept the requests for field hospitals, surgical teams and ten beds in Birmingham,” the MP said.

“As I said in the House last week during PMQs, this is a relatively small investment that would make a huge difference to our allies in a common fight to defeat the evil of terrorism,” he concluded.

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg

Source: ARA News

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