A German army adviser trains a group of Peshmerga forces carrying G36 rifles. Photo: KRG
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – A commander in the Rojava Peshmerga denied a report published by a German newspaper alleging that German-supplied weapons were used in last week’s clashes between the Rojava Peshmerga, backed by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), and the Shingal Protection Units (YBS), a Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) affiliate. Germany has reportedly called for clarification from the KRG.
German news outlet Spiegel Online reported that, in footage of the clashes, the Rojava Peshmerga appeared to be using German G36 assault rifles and quotes Jan van Aken, a member of the Subcommittee on Disarmament, Arms Control and Non-Proliferation in the German Bundestag, decrying the use of German weapons against Yezidis.
A spokesperson for the German Ministry of Defense told Spiegel that German soldiers stationed in the Kurdistan Region were requested to speak with the KRG about the incident on Berlin’s behalf.
Germany supplied weapons to the Peshmerga on the condition they were used only in the fight against ISIS and in accordance with international law, the spokesperson added.
Falah Mustafa, head of the KRG’s foreign relations department, told Rudaw that the Germany government has not called for an explanation from the KRG over the supposed usage of German weapons by the Rojava Peshmerga.
“We, as the foreign relations department, have not received such a call from the German government,” said Mustafa.
Germany is an effective partner within the US-led coalition in the fight against ISIS, outfitting the KRG Peshmerga with weapons including G-3 and G-36 assault rifles and anti-tank Milan missiles, as well as providing training.
A commander of the Rojava Peshmerga, Qadir Sheikh Mami, denied that any German-supplied weapons had been used in the clashes with the YBS.
“This news is not true,” he told Rudaw English.
Deadly clashes between the Rojava Peshmerga and the YBS erupted Friday morning in the Shingal area.
The Rojava Peshmerga claimed in a statement they were fired on first and that the YBS prevented them from carrying out a routine deployment of their forces to the Iraq-Syria border.
The YBS, in their own statement, said that they object to the presence of the Rojava Peshmerga, a brigade formed from Syrian refugees in the Kurdistan Region, calling them an “occupying force.” The YBS, formed by the PKK in the Shingal region to provide protection for Yezidi towns, deny they started the confrontation however, stating that the Rojava Peshmerga were the first to open fire.