December 17, 2014 / 11:48 AM / 4 years ago

German cabinet approves training mission to Iraq

A Peshmerga fighter kneels next to a French-German anti-tank light infantry missile MILAN during a training session at the Bundeswehr army training site of Hammelburg near the northern Bavarian city of Wuerzburg October 2, 2014. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay

BERLIN (Reuters) - The German cabinet on Wednesday agreed to send around 100 German troops to northern Iraq to train Kurdish peshmerga forces fighting Islamic State (IS) militants.

Islamic State has caused international alarm by capturing large expanses of Iraq and Syria and declaring an Islamic “caliphate”. Western powers see the Kurds as a vital bulwark against further IS advances.In the last few months France, Britain, Germany and others have begun arming the Kurds, whose Soviet-era weaponry has proved ineffective against insurgents flush with hardware plundered from the Iraqi army.

“With Islamic State, sheer barbarism has returned to the Middle East,” said German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, adding they were a terrorist group who showed unimaginable violence to all who opposed them.

Germany, which has for decades been cautious about deploying troops and weapons to conflict zones, has already sent military aid to the Kurds in northern Iraq but is not taking part in the U.S.-led air strikes against the Islamic State insurgents.

German troops, who will be based around Arbil, will join a handful of their peers already in northern Iraq in giving the peshmerga basic training, as well as specialized instruction in how to clear explosives, first aid and tactics.

Parliament will hold a vote on the mission in early 2015.

Reporting by Alexandra Hudson; Editing by Dominic Evans

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