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Americans, Kurds Renew Partnership to Fight ISIS

An Air Force tactical air control (TACP) party specialist assigned to Detachment 1, 3rd Air Support Operations Squadron, descends over Geronimo Drop Zone during airborne training at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, Aug. 31, 2022. Air Force special warfare Airmen from Detachment 1, 3rd ASOS, and Detachment 3, 1st Combat Weather Squadron, supported by Alaska Army National Guard aircrew from the 207th Aviation Troop Command, conducted the training to demonstrate airborne and mission-readiness skills in austere conditions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Alejandro Peña)

Despite Trump’s gross, and frankly bizarre betrayal of our Kurdish allies, Biden’s administration is recommitting to the struggle against ISIS.

Assistant Secretary of Defense Celeste Wallander met with Iraqi leaders last week to affirm the U.S. partnership with the nation, and to underscore the U.S. commitment to supporting Iraq in the defeat-ISIS mission.

More on our Kurdish allies

Wallander, the assistant secretary for international security matters and a new memorandum of understanding with Shoresh Ismail Abdulla, the Kurdistan Regional Government minister of peshmerga issues, on September. 21. The agreement sets out mutually agreed parameters for the next four years as the U.S. continues to support to the peshmerga in Defeat-ISIS operations.

While in Baghdad, Wallander met with Iraq Defense Minister Jumah Inad Sadun, as well as other defense leaders. Wallander emphasized the long-term relationship that exists between the United States and Iraq and talked about ongoing efforts to increase the operational capabilities that security forces in Iraqi Security Forces. She and Iraq’s defense leaders considered expanding collaboration between the two countries beyond counterterrorism operations to address emerging threats , and to improve cooperation and interoperability.

Wallander then travelled for a visit to Iraqi city Irbil where she met with Kurdish officials and officials, including Nechirvan Idris Barzani, president of Iraq’s Kurdistan region and the commander-in-chief of the peshmerga.

The memorandum it signed with the Department of Defense continues the critical partnership with the peshmerga stretching through the first Gulf War. “For decades, we have worked together based on shared objectives and a common commitment to the mandate that all people deserve dignity, security and the right to seek a better future,” she told the crowd at the ceremony to sign the memorandum in Irbil.

The main threat today has become the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. The terrorist group erupted from the ungoverned regions of Syria in 2014 and overwhelmed forces arrayed against it. The Department of Defense first signed an MOU with the Kurdistan Regional Government in 2016, when ISIS controlled large areas of the territory in Iraq, to clearly demonstrate the Department of Defense’s dedication to the peshmerga in the course of how they along with the other Iraqi security forces joined the global coalition to liberate the Iraqi people of ISIS terror.

“Since 2014, the U.S.-led coalition has supported Iraq’s fight against ISIS,” Wallander declared. “Together, we liberated more than 50,000 square kilometers from ISIS control, including critical infrastructure and population centers in Iraq’s Kurdistan region, freed more than 4.5 million Iraqis from ISIS terrorism, and provided our Iraqi-Kurdish partners with recovery and stabilization support.”

ISIS is no longer a territory, however, it continues as a terrorist organization that is elusive that targets the people of Iraq and populations across the broader region. “The United States remains committed to supporting the Iraqi Security Forces, including the Kurdish peshmerga, to ensure the enduring defeat of ISIS,” she said.

The updated memorandum serves as an organizing framework for the provision of combat ISIS support to peshmerga, highlighting DOD’s commitment to provide support and the Kurdistan Regional Government’s determination to maintain reforms that modernize peshmerga forces.

U.S. forces remain in Iraq at the invitation of the government to provide advice as well as assist Iraqi troops. “We must continue to work together to protect the gains made against ISIS and set the conditions for the next phase of the fight by denying ISIS even the smallest opportunity to resurge,” Wallander stated. “This MOU will guide the Department of Defense’s future assistance to the peshmerga, which is a pillar of the department’s broader ‘D-ISIS’ partnership with the government of Iraq.”

“On this occasion, I want to offer my deep appreciation and respect for the tremendous sacrifices made by members of the peshmerga who gave their lives in the fight to defeat ISIS,” Wallander declared. “The United States is cognizant of the cost of victory to the peshmerga, and we are honored to be your partners — on and off the battlefield.”

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