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Old 11th Feb 2015, 05:39
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Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: by the Great Salt Lake, USA
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The UAE settled for more Blackhawks - US moves more helicopters to Erbil despite protests from Baghdad

US moves more helicopters to Erbil despite protests from Baghdad By RUDAW 6/2/2015

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

“The rescue teams and aircraft — or their lack — would apply as well to the recovery of any downed American pilots flying missions over Iraq and Syria,” the New York Times reported on Thursday.

According to the Times report, the positioning of the helicopters followed a demand by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) -- which is a member of the anti-Islamic State (ISIS) coalition – that “the United States put in place a more effective search-and-rescue system in northern Iraq, closer to the battleground, instead of basing aircraft for such missions much farther south in Kuwait.”

Following the capture of Jordanian pilot Mouath al-Kasasbeh in Syria in December, who was shown being burnt alive in an ISIS video this week, the UAE suspended its combat missions over Iraq.

“When United Arab Emirates officials discovered that most of the rescue teams and aircraft were based in Kuwait, they said that their pilots would not fly until there was a system in place for more rapid search and rescue,” wrote the Times.

The report said that the US Central Command has notified UAE officials “that they had sent additional rescue helicopters and crew members to Erbil.”

The newspaper quoted a senior US official as saying, “American officials had been trying to navigate around resistance from the Iraqi government, which has objected to Erbil as the location of American helicopters and V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft, which take off and land like helicopters but fly like planes.”

“The Iraqi government has expressed concerns that placing sophisticated American weaponry in Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, could embolden the Kurds’ ambitions for independence from Iraq,” the newspaper wrote.

The US and other Western countries such as Britain, Germany and Canada have set up military bases in the Kurdistan Region, training Kurdish forces on advanced weapons in their fight against ISIS.

Late last month the Pentagon announced the opening of its fourth training camp in Iraq outside Erbil to train 100 Peshmerga soldiers.

In addition, senior Kurdish officials have repeatedly complained that Baghdad has been sluggish in delivering international humanitarian and defense aid to the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).
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