Iranian Kurdish Peshmerga fighters deny arming by US
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan24) – Kurdistan Freedom Party (PAK) has good ties with the US as an Iranian Kurdish political party with Peshmerga fighters battling the so-called Islamic State (IS), the party’s deputy head said on Friday.
In an interview with Kurdistan24, PAK Deputy Leader and Peshmerga Commander in southern Kirkuk Hussen Yazdanpanah denied reports the US or international coalition have armed the party’s fighters.
“The US haven’t armed PAK Peshmerga fighters in the fight against [IS],” Yazdanpanah said.
He mentioned that PAK Peshmerga had utilized the weapons they confiscated from IS, fighting the jihadist group for two years.
“We have good relations with the US as a Kurdish Iranian party and Peshmerga force combating [IS], but not to the extent that the US and coalition directly arm us,” the PAK Peshmerga Commander added.
The PAK had requested the US and international coalition countries for direct armament, and according to Yazdanpanah, the US and the coalition are currently assessing the request.
Yazdanpanah also called on the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Peshmerga Ministry to provide military aid based on the role they play in the fight against IS.
Regarding Iranian concern on the alleged armament of the group by the US, he explained that Tehran should be concerned about the Kurdish rights in Iranian Kurdistan (Rojhelat).
“There will be a day where we will end their occupation and Kurds will achieve freedom,” he stated.
In another part of the interview, the Peshmerga Commander noted that in the last three months, the number of people fleeing from IS to Peshmerga front lines has dramatically increased.
Firstly, the jihadist group has become weak in the area. Secondly, people are afraid of the Shia militia Hashd al-Shaabi attacking the area who have been reported by human rights organizations for committing war crimes.
Moreover, Yazdanpanah believes that people escaping IS trust Peshmerga forces to rescue and protect them from the insurgents.
He also highlighted sometimes IS sleeper cells aim to enter the Kurdistan Region by hiding among the fleeing civilians, but they fail to do so.
“We receive information about [IS] members, and we investigate everyone escaping to Peshmerga front lines before sending them to displaced camps,” Yazdanpanah added.
According to him, humanitarian organizations have not been very active in helping the newly arrived displaced people causing more load on Peshmerga’s shoulders.
“Recently, some humanitarian organizations started to help displaced persons after media reports about the case,” he concluded.
Coalition military advisers recently trained PAK Peshmerga fighters, and according to the PAK Deputy Head, “It was within the framework of the [IS] war.”
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany