This is Kaywan, the biggest base of Iraqi army’s Dijla operation in Kirkuk where as many as 12,000 soldiers dropped their weapons when ISIS attacked in 2014 and all that remains of their presence is slogans on the walls.
Zana Khidr, a Peshmerga, who has been defending the base with his comrades for two years, says: “We have been defending their [Iraqi army] base for two years. We had never expected that one day this huge force, numbering 12,000 would abandon the Kaywan base. Unlike them, we do not defend Kirkuk with slogans, but with blood,”
In the course of 18 operations, Peshmerga controlled all the army bases which had fallen to ISIS in Kirkuk and its vicinity after they fled the city and now they say they are here to stay.
Maj. Gen. Mohammed Regir, a Peshmerga official said that “the Peshmerga has been defending Kirkuk for three years with their blood. Therefore, we don’t withdraw, as there is not an alternative to come and replace the Peshmerga. “
Many of the city's Turkmen and Arab residents too now want the Peshmerga to stay here for protection and recognizing the fact that since the Peshmerga came to Kirkuk terrorist attacks and explosions have decreased by 90 percent.