By Idris Okuducu
The U.S. plans to train and equip two brigades of Kurdish Peshmerga forces within the coming year, according to an official of northern Iraq’s Kurdish Regional Government (KRG).
"The U.S. Department of Defense has allocated $200 million for the KRG to be used in the fight against terrorism,” Jabar Yawar, head of the KRG’s Ministry of Peshmerga Affairs, told Anadolu Agency on Friday.
Half of this, Yawar said, would go towards training Peshmerga fighters.
Noting that the move was still in “the planning phase”, Yawar added: "If the decision is approved and the funds are obtained, training will begin; remaining funds will go towards weapons spare parts, transportation and communication systems."
"We have not yet decided which Peshmerga brigades will be put through the training program," he added.
Yawar went on to note that the U.S. had already equipped the Peshmerga’s 1st and 2nd infantry brigades with both light and heavy weapons.
“These brigades are currently deployed in southern and northern Kirkuk respectively," he asserted.
On Thursday, the U.S. State Department approved the sale of almost $300 million in arms to Peshmerga forces.
Last summer, the U.S. Defense Department signed a protocol with the KRG for stepped-up military cooperation against the Daesh terrorist group, which overran much of Iraq -- including the northern city of Mosul -- in mid-2014.
According to the protocol, the U.S. will provide Peshmerga forces with $415 million to pay the salaries of Peshmerga fighters and other expenditures.
Stating that Peshmerga forces would vacate Mosul following its recapture from Daesh, Yawar went on to assert that the KRG’s ongoing salary crisis had been prompted by falling global petroleum prices.
*Ali Murat Alhas contributed to this report from Ankara