Kurdish Peshmerga lose 4,000 fighters in war with IS

Kurdish Peshmerga lose 4,000 fighters in war with IS
The mayor of Iraq's Yazidi-majority town Sinjar has told The New Arab that thousands of Kurdish fighters have died fighting IS, and criticised Baghdad's policy of 'Arabisation'.
2 min read
07 November, 2016
The Kurdish fighters have been fighting IS for more than two years [Getty]

The mayor of Sinjar has alleged that more than 4,000 Peshmerga Kurdish fighters have died fighting Islamic State group militants over the past two years.

Mahma Xelil also told The New Arab that the Iraqi-Kurdish fighting force were the only actors in Iraq capable of taking on IS.

He also claimed that despite the Peshmerga's steadfast commitment to defeating the jihadis, Kurdish fighters still haven't received their salaries from the Baghdad government.

"The Peshmerga have proved to the world that we are the only force to have continuously fought IS," he said.

"We provided more than 4,000 martyrs on the battlefronts in order to restore the Iraqi lands to the heart of the nation," Xelil said.

"Still, after all these sacrifices the Peshmerga haven't received... a salary from the Baghdad government and despite facing one of the most dangerous organisations, we also haven't received any reinforcements from Baghdad."

Xelil's interview coincided with news of the Peshmerga's latest victory over IS in Iraq's northern Nineveh province.

Hamid Efendi, commander of Peshmerga forces in Bashiqah, told reporters today that Kurdish fighters had occupied Bashiqah city centre.

"IS militants attacked Peshmerga forces' positions with at least eight suicide bombers who blew themselves up without causing any casualties," Efendi said.

Xelil also reiterated the importance of Article 140 of the Iraqi constitution, which calls on the government to reverse Saddam Hussein's policy of "Arabisation" in Iraqi Kurdistan.

"Today, the Peshmerga hold the land which they liberated and continue to fight for. We expect [President Haider al-Abadi] to abide by [the article] and give us all our rights," he said.

However, the Kurdish militia has also been accused of ethnic cleaning in Iraq. 

After an IS bombing in Kirkuk, Peshmerga fighters evicted 325 families for the contested city, Human Rights Watch reported earlier this month.

Kurdistan Alliance MP Mohsen Saadoun, also called for a "political consensus on the future of the province of Nineveh after IS", in a televised statement today.

"The Baghdad government have failed to resolve Article 140 … because [IS] has created a new situation in Mosul, leading to great sacrifices for the Peshmerga guerrillas for more than two years.

Saadoun said that any future partnership between Erbil and Baghdad would require a return to the constitution "according to a mechanism which must be agreed upon".