Begin Says Israel Supported the Kurds in Their Fight Against Iraq

Israel has admitted officially for the first time that it provided arms and military instructors to the Kurds in their secessionist fight against Iraq from 1965 to 1975. Foreign news media had frequently reported that successive Labor Party governments were aiding the Kurds, but a statement yesterday by Premier Menachem Begin was the first official confirmation.

Talking to reporters at Givat Olga, near Tel Aviv, Begin said “Israel actively supported the Kurds in their struggle for independence for 10 years.” He said Israel “provided arms and instructors to train the Kurdish fighters, who performed courageously despite the fact that they were outnumbered and outgunned by the Iraqis.”

Begin said the late Shah of Iran was the leading advocate of aid for the Kurds and had supplied them with some arms. The program continued until Iran and Iraq signed a treaty in 1975 settling their bilateral dispute. Iraq denounced the treaty when hostilities broke out with Iran two weeks ago.

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