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Israel ex-commandos training Kurds in north Iraq: report

Jeudi 1 decembre 2005 à 15h07

JERUSALEM, Dec 1 (AFP) — Dozens of former Israeli commandos have been training Kurdish security forces in northern Iraq, supplying them with equipment worth millions of dollars, an Israeli newspaper reported Thursday.

Over the past 18 months, these ex-commandos, who were sent to Iraq by several Israeli corporations including Motorola Israel, have been training special security units as part of a programme organised by the Kurdish authorities, the top-selling Yedioth Aharonot daily said.

They have also been involved in the secret construction of a major airport near the northern town of Arbil, known as "Hawler International".

Operating from a secret desert stronghold dubbed Code Z, these former Israeli soldiers, all of whom have elite-unit experience, have been training the Kurds in weapons, self-defence and anti-terror techniques, the paper said.

As part of the programme, the Israeli firms have supplied the Kurds with tonnes of Israeli-manufactured equipment, including dozens of motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles (AVTs), sniffer dogs, devices for upgrading Kalashnikov rifles, flack jackets, uniforms and helmets.

The Israelis entered Iraq through its northern border with Turkey posing as construction engineers and agricultural experts, the paper said.

A shroud of secrecy has been imposed on the project for fear the Israelis could be targeted by Iraqi militant groups and either kidnapped or killed.

Speculation that Israeli agents have been operating in Iraq's Kurdish areas has been rife for over a year, but has never been confirmed.

Aside from Motorola Israel, the report also named Magal Security Systems as being involved in the Kurdish training programme. There was no immediate comment from either company on the report.

Les informations ci-dessus de l'AFP n'engagent pas la responsabilité de l'Institut kurde de Paris.