Aug 27, 2014 |
Kurdish Peshmerga fighters look at a map as they hold a position near the strategic Jalawla area in Diyala province, Iraq. -AFP
Iran has supplied weapons and ammunition to Iraqi Kurdish forces, Kurdistan president Massoud Barzani said Tuesday at a joint press conference with Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Arbil, capital of Iraq’s Kurdish region.
The direct arming of Kurdish forces is a contentious issue because some Iraqi politicians have said they suspect Kurdish leaders have aspirations to break away from the central government completely. The move could also be seen by some as a prelude to Iran taking a more direct role in broader Iraqi conflict.
“We asked for weapons and Iran was the first country to provide us with weapons and ammunition,” Mr Barzani said.
Militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), also known as the Islamic State (IS), have clashed with Kurdish peshmerga fighters in recent weeks and taken control of some areas on the periphery of Iraqi Kurdistan.
Earlier in the day, a car bomb ripped through a crowded Baghdad intersection during morning rush hour on Tuesday, killing 15 people and wounding at least 37, security and medical officials said.
The ISIS, which controls large swathes of northern and western Iraq, claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing in the New Baghdad neighbourhood on Monday and said in a statement that the attack was carried out as revenge for an attack against a Sunni mosque in Diyala on Friday which killed 68 and wounded dozens.
The Iranian foreign minister held talks with Mr Barzani on Tuesday, one day after visiting senior Shia clerics in southern Iraq.