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US opening air base near Erbil, Kurdish official says

By Rudaw 11/2/2015
The US stationed several Black Hawk helicopters in Erbil this month. AFP photo.
The US stationed several Black Hawk helicopters in Erbil this month. AFP photo.

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – The United States is opening an air base in the Kurdistan Region, and planes based there will carry out surveillance missions but not bombing raids, a Kurdish official said.

Helgurd Hekmat, spokesman for the Kurdish Peshmerga forces fighting on the ground against ISIS, said that US military planes and personnel would be deployed at the new base, which was still under construction.

“The base Is close to Erbil,” he told Turkey’s Anadolu Agency, without giving more details. "The aircraft will carry out surveillance," he added, “but those on bombing missions will not take off from the new base."

Hekmat said the base – once ready – would be used by all countries that are part of the US-led coalition arrayed against insurgents fighting under the Islamic State (ISIS) banner.

US warplanes have been pounding ISIS positions in Iraq since early August, with some Western and Arab states more recently taking part.

In a news briefing in Washington on Tuesday, Pentagon Spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby denied that the US had any military bases in Erbil.

“We don't have a military base in Erbil. There are some Combat Search and Rescue assets that we have up in Erbil, should they be needed, and we're grateful for the space that they're able to occupy up there,” he said.

The United States sent a number of Black Hawk helicopters to Erbil this month, enabling quicker rescue missions, after insurgents killed a downed Jordanian pilot by burning him alive.

The deployment reportedly happened after the United Arab Emirates refused to fly missions over Iraq unless there was a quick rescue operation in place to rescue other downed pilots.

The New York Times reported that the Black Hawks were sent to Erbil over objections by Baghdad, which sees any strengthening of the Kurds as a possible step toward the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) declaring independence for Iraq’s estimated 5 million Kurds.

But Kirby said that every US move across Iraq – including Kurdistan -- was coordinated with Iraqi officials: “We coordinate and consult with them before we make any major decisions inside their country. It is their country.”


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Turkey and Shia are not your friends!! Kurds are. | 11/2/2015
F bases, we need the US to recognize kurdish independence. The kurds are right now preventing Charlie happening also in New York, US should recognize that. EU and US would be flooded with bearded muslim savages if it wasn't for the heroic kurdish fighters. The US should treat kurds with more respect.
Botani | 11/2/2015
It is inside their country it is their country but if we really want and any thing interest us the whole world is USA , please rethink about our Kurdish interest as well we all have to share the cake just little fairness would do it for gods sack
Muraz Adzhoev | 11/2/2015
Iraq is the Iraqi officials country, so said Kirby. Then is the US its officials country, not the Americans, Mr. Kirby? Southern Kurdistan is not a country of the Iraqi officials. The sovereign owner of Southern Kurdistan is only its sovereign people, as far as Iraq is actually the failed state. There are no legitimate in fact officials and institutions that could legally be authorized to represent any sovereign country at all. Iraq is dead and the US officials should have known this fact, Mr. Kirby, should not they? Yes, certainly, the US officials are making "lawful" decisions and they are not formally able to admit that Iraq is finally failed, unless the Kurdistan Region's legitimate authorities declare independence of alive and active Southern Kurdistan from deadly passive and absolutely invalid Iraq. It is very obvious that the Americans are willing to recognize Southern Kurdistan as a sovereign country of the sovereign multinational and multicultural people. But what about the US officials that unlawfully claim to be the owners and the main shareholders of the US? The US officials would better take care of their political responsibility before the American people. Ask the Americans what exactly do they wish and want for the people of Southern Kurdistan, as well as for the people of Western Kurdistan now.
SHIKAK AMEDI | 11/2/2015
Argushi, USA | 11/2/2015
We welcome US air base to Kurdistan. We hope the base will stay forever. LONG LIVE KURDIUSTAN AND GOD BLESS USA

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