A year and a half after construction began, Germany has officially handed over the new Peshmerga Hospital in Erbil to the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in a ceremony attended by German and Kurdish officials.
“It is the most important project for Peshmerga soldiers,” Sarbast Lazgin, deputy minister of Peshmerga, told assembled guests and journalists.
“On behalf of the KRG, Peshmerga Ministry, and Peshmerga soldiers, we are expressing gratitude to the nation and government of Germany for their continued support and assistance to the Peshmerga in the fight against the terrorist Daesh organization in the past four years,” he added, using the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State (ISIS).
Lazgin attributed changes in the “balance of power” during the fight against ISIS to the German military and its logistical support for the Peshmerga.
Colonel M. Schneider, Commander of German Forces in Iraq, told the ceremony that German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen will “follow developments at the Peshmerga Hospital and Kurdistan as a whole because both have always been of a special importance for her.”
Von der Leyen has been instrumental to Berlin’s support for Peshmerga during and after the ISIS conflict. She visited the site on her fifth visit to the Kurdistan Region last year.
“We all know that the Peshmerga on our behalf and that of the world, fought very well against ISIS,” said von der Leyen at the time.
The German Army handed over the Peshmerga Hospital to the Peshmerga Forces in a ceremony on April 24, 2019. Photo: handout/Ministry of Peshmerga
Up to 150 German personnel are based at the international anti-ISIS Combined Joint Operations Command Center in Erbil, where they have worked with Iraqi and Kurdish commanders, in addition to Peshmerga units through the Kurdistan Training Coordination Center (KTTC).
The Region’s first dedicated Peshmerga military hospital took 14 months to build and was completed at the beginning of February. The facility will be used to treat members of the Kurdistan Region armed forces wounded in the ISIS war.
Lazgin called on other members of the US-led anti-ISIS coalition to “provide technical and financial support to finish the remaining unfinished parts of the Peshmerga Hospital so we can provide the best possible service to the wounded Peshmerga of the fight against Daesh.”
The $4.8 million facility has 20 beds and is build across a 1,000 square-meter plot of land. The finishing touches ought to be complete by the end of the year.
“We are trying to gradually enhance the hospital’s capacity. It is a 20 bed hospital. It has two surgery halls,” Dr. Rebin Zikhani, deputy manager of health affairs at the ministry, had earlier told Rudaw.
Some 772 Peshmerga wounded in the ISIS conflict have received treatment abroad to date.
More than 10,000 Peshmerga were wounded during the four-year war with ISIS and more than 1,800 killed.