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Thursday, September 21, 2006

Former Israeli Soldiers Providing Kurds with Military Training: Report


Former Israeli commandos have been training Kurdish security forces in northern Iraq, the BBC reported on Sept. 19, showing videos of the alleged training camps.

According to the broadcaster, over 2004 and 2005, the ex-commandos were giving training to Kurdish soldiers and left Iraq in 2005 when told by the Kurds that their location was compromised.

Israel apparently provided the training, along with quad bikes, communications equipment and security fencing through security companies.

The training covered airport security, the use of long rifles and pistols, shooting from behind doors and barricades, and how to identify a terrorist in a crowd, the broadcaster reported.

The BBC also reported that the total value of the training, and the associated equipment supplied, may have been as high as $150 million (118 million euros).

Speaking to the broadcaster, an unidentified Israeli who took part in the training camps said: “Day by day, it’s a bit tense, because you know where you are, and you know who you are, and there’s always a chance that you’ll get found out.”

Spokesmen for the Israeli and Iraqi Kurdistan governments both denied having any knowledge of the training taking place.

According to the BBC, Israel is also conducting an inquiry into the issue.
The BBC’s report is not the first time the issue has been raised — the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Aharonot made similar allegations in December 2005, a charge the government of Iraqi Kurdistan denied.

At the time, the newspaper reported that, operating from a secret desert stronghold dubbed Code Z, former Israeli soldiers, all of whom have elite-unit experience, were training the Kurds in weapons, self-defense and anti-terror techniques.

As part of the program, the Israeli firms had supplied the Kurds with tons of Israeli-manufactured equipment, including dozens of motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles, sniffer dogs, devices for upgrading Kalashnikov rifles, flak jackets, uniforms and helmets, the paper said.
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