SULAIMANI (ESTA) — The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) co-leaders met with a UK delegation led by a defense senior advisor in Erbil on Wednesday.
Bafel Talabani and Lahur Sheikh Jangi held talks with the UK delegation led by Defense Senior Advisor to the Middle East and North Africa Air Marshal Sammy Sampson in Erbil.
They discussed the latest political developments and security challenges as well as threats posed by Islamic State (ISIS) militants in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region, PUK co-leaders’ office said in a statement.
The PUK co-leaders stressed joint works and coordination between Peshmerga forces and Iraqi military backed by the U.S.-led Coalition in Kirkuk and the disputed areas, where there are a ‘security vacuum’.
Kurdish officials have warned that ISIS militants are using a “security vacuum” between Peshmerga forces and Iraqi army in the disputed areas to attack the security forces and residents there.
Peshmerga forces thwarted an ISIS attack near Prde town in south of Erbil on Saturday. Three members of the Kurdish forces were killed and two others were wounded in clashes with the militants.
The Ministry of Peshmerga blamed the “security vacuum” between the Iraqi and Kurdish forces for ISIS attacks against the Peshmerga forces.
The PUK co-leaders also stressed “the importance and the need for the continuity of military assistance and the Coalition mission in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region to eliminate ISIS militants and to preserve security and stability in the region,” the statement read.
Regarding reform, Talabani and Sheikh Jangi reaffirmed PUK’s readiness and support for reform and reorganizing Peshmerga forces on the basis of equality and balance.
They also expressed PUK’s desire for “having one force of Peshmerga, which is away from interference, and the Kurdistan Region owning a national, organized force,” according to the statement.
In February 2018, the Kurdistan Region’s Peshmerga ministry announced a 35-point plan to make the Peshmerga a more efficient, modern, and non-partisan fighting force, developed in consultation with advisors from the U.S., UK and Germany.
The Peshmerga ministry’s reforms include the unification of its units that are not under the command of the official military institution as well as training for the forces.
The PUK co-leaders and the UK delegation agreed to make a plan and a program for the continuity of joint works to eliminate ISIS sleeper cells in the country.