Kurds

Foreign and Commonwealth Office written question – answered on 28th October 2015.

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Photo of Lord Greaves Lord Greaves Liberal Democrat

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether, and to what extent, they are (1) engaged in diplomatic contacts with, and (2) providing support to, the Kurdish authorities and groups involved in the conflicts in Syria and Iraq.

Photo of Baroness Anelay of St Johns Baroness Anelay of St Johns Minister of State

The UK has a strong and well-established relationship with the Kurdistan Region of Northern Iraq. We maintain a Consulate General in Erbil, the capital of the Kurdistan Region, and have regular contact with officials from the Kurdistan Regional Government. As part of our wider support to Iraq, we are providing significant military assistance to the Kurdish Peshmerga to help them degrade and defeat ISIL. In addition to air support, we have trained over 2,100 Peshmerga fighters in infantry fighting skills, weapons handling and Counter-Improvised Explosive Device procedures. We have also gifted weapons, non-lethal equipment and airlifted support provided by other partners in the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL.

In Syria the situation is more difficult. Kurdish groups are effective against ISIL, and have benefited from US airstrikes against ISIL. But we remain concerned that the Syrian Kurdish authorities maintain links with the Assad regime and the proscribed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), so we are not able to provide material support. UKofficials have discussed our concerns with the Democratic Union Party (PYD), the ruling Kurdish authority in Northern Syria and continue to do so.

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