Akon Plans Anti-ISIS Concert In Iraq To Benefit Kurdish Fighters

Akon is playing an anti-ISIS show in Iraq's Kurdish region next month, one that will benefit the Peshmerga fighters who have been pushing back ISIS across the country.

The American hip-hop star announced the charity concert this week, saying it will take place in the city of Erbil.

"I am so excited to be there to visit that 8,000 year old city to perform live at the Hariri Stadium," said Akon in the video announcement.

The Akon anti-ISIS concert will raise money for families of Kurdish Peshmerga fighters, who are waged in a fierce battle with ISIS across Iraq. After the militant group swept across Iraq and Syria last year, conquering large swaths of land with little to no resistance from the Iraqi military, it has been the Kurdish fighters who have led the charge against ISIS.

Tickets to the concert will be free, but proceeds from other sales will benefit the Kurdish families. To stage the anti-ISIS concert, Akon is working with a foundation based out of Erbil that provides humanitarian aid in the region.

The anti-ISIS concert could be a big boost for Erbil as well. As the largest city in Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdish region, Erbil has become a major part of the fight against ISIS, even more than Baghdad.

This week the United States sent a number of Black Hawk helicopters to Erbil, giving them the ability to quickly rescue American pilots if they are shot down or crash while conducting air strikes against ISIS.

"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.

The decision comes with some controversy, as the Iraqi government is fearful that placing weapons in Erbil could embolden the Kurds' ambitions to break free from Iraq and become their own country.

"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," an unnamed source told the New York Times.

With the Akon anti-ISIS concert, Erbil will have its first major American performer, noted Noor Matti, operations manager for Kurdish radio station, Babylon FM.

"We are thankful for the Rwanga Foundation for working tirelessly to make this happen," Matti said. "It's a big deal because it will be the first time a famous American musician has performed in Erbil."

The Akon anti-ISIS concert is set to take place in March.