Peshmerga minister asks France for military help (Reuters, le 1er avril 2015)

11French President Francois Hollande met with a Kurdish Peshmerga delegation on Wednesday at the Elysee Palace to discuss the possibility of arming Kurdish forces to help them defeat Islamic State.

Known for his proactive role in France’s intervention in Libya in 2011, French philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy was also present at the meeting.

He accompanied the delegation on a visit to the Paris kosher supermarket and a memorial outside the former headquarters of weekly satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, where sixteen people were killed by Islamist gunmen in January.

Levy has been advocating the arming of Peshmerga fighters, particularly since the attack on Charlie Hebdo and the Hyper Cacher.

« When we were in front of Mosul, I spoke to Commander Barzani about Charlie Hebdo and I told him that these were the same killers, the same enemies and the same fight, » he said, speaking to Minister of Peshmerga Affairs Mustafa Sayid Qadir.

France’s Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian greeted Qadir, who was accompanied by Peshmerga Commander Sirwan Barzani and the representative of the Kurdistan Regional Government in France, Khaman Zrar.

While brave and well-led, the Kurds have found themselves outgunned in battles with Islamic State.

Qadir appealed to the French government to aid Kurdish Peshmerga fighters by providing them with weapons.

« Another reason for our meeting and our visit is to ask the president of the republic (of France) to help us a little bit more in terms of armament so we can defeat Islamic State as fast as possible, » he said.

More than 1,000 Peshmerga have been killed in combat with Islamic State militants since they overran a third of Iraq last summer, but several hundred Kurds have joined the other side and are fighting against their ethnic kin.

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