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Prime Minister Barzani tells Christian leaders that international coalition is needed to defeat ISIS

THU, 21 AUG 2014 23:05 | KRG Cabinet

Erbil, Kurdistan, Iraq (KRG.org) – Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani yesterday received a delegation of Christian patriarchs to discuss the situation in Kurdistan and Iraq and the plight of internally displaced people.

Christian delegation appreciates KRG protection for minorities

The delegation was led by Patriarch Cardinal Mar Beshara Boutros al-Rahi, Maronite Patriarch of Antioch and the East, and included several Catholic and Assyrian patriarchs, bishops, and Christian officials representing the Kurdistan Region, Iraq, and global communities.

The delegation applauded the KRG for coming to the rescue of the Christians in Mosul and the Ninevah plains, as well as accommodation for Christians that have fled central and southern parts of the country and taken refuge in the Kurdistan Region. Members of the delegation noted that Christians recognised the safety and security in the Region and it has brought them hope.

Members of the delegation emphasised the importance of sharing details of the crimes perpetrated against the Christians and other minorities with the Vatican and with Washington, and sought international aerial protection for Christians, Yezidis, Shabak, Turkmen, and other minority communities in the area. This would be necessary to ensure their safety and allow them to return home. The delegation also praised the people and the government of Kurdistan for the aid and support that have been provided for the displaced.

Prime Minister Barzani underscores the need for international involvement

Prime Minister Barzani noted the importance of this visit, which demonstrates the solidarity of the Christian delegation with the various communities in the Kurdistan Region and Iraq. He said, “The KRG supports minorities and will spare no effort in protecting them. These communities have roots in this area stretching back millennia. However, the KRG cannot resolve the current situation alone, as this fight requires resources beyond our government’s capacity. We are fighting a terrorist state, not just a terrorist organisation.” In this regard, the Prime Minister agreed with the call for international aerial protection for Christians and other minority groups.

The Prime Minister added that even after the fall of the previous regime in 2003, Iraq’s federal government had not contributed whatsoever in providing arms or training to the Peshmerga forces. Iraq had not even sent small arms to use in the fight against the terrorists, who looted the most advanced weaponry from the Iraqi army. The Kurdistan Region’s military capabilities therefore had been quite limited and this had hindered the Peshmerga forces’ ability to combat a terrorist state with access to heavy and advanced weaponry.

Prime Minister Barzani stated that Peshmerga forces are now on the offensive and have retaken several areas, but that this war requires an international coalition. The KRG is therefore liaising with the international community and with Baghdad to defeat the terrorists. He also urged the delegation to discuss the crisis. He said, “Your voices are meaningful in promoting the establishment of an international coalition, and you can play an important role.”