Peshmerga fighters load an artillery at the Altun Kubri checkpoint, 40kms from Kirkuk, on October 20, 2017. Photo: AFP / Marc-Antoine Pelaez
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – A Peshmerga unit has denied using the German-donated MILAN anti-tank system when defending against a military offensive by Iraqi forces and the mainly Shiite Hashd al-Shaabi in Pirde (Altun Kupri). Kurdish and Iraqi forces have issued conflicting statements on Friday’s clashes.
While denying they had used weapons intended solely for the war against ISIS, the Peshmerga statement wondered about the use of American weapons and tanks against their forces by the Iraqi army and Hashd.
“We dismiss the accusation of using the MILAN weapon. However, it begs the question where the Hashd al-Shaabi militias got Abrams and T72 tanks, Humvees, and advanced weapons of the West and what entitles them to use them against the Kurdistani nation,” read a statement on Saturday from the Peshmerga that fought in Pirde.
The Peshmerga had said on Friday they destroyed two tanks, including one Abrams tank, one armored vehicle, and more than 12 Humvees.
Iraq’s Joint Operations Command said the Peshmerga used the MILAN anti-tank system against its forces in Pirde. The defense system was given by Germany to the Peshmerga “exclusively” for the war against ISIS, the statement read.
It said the MILAN weapons caused material and human losses among the Iraqi forces, calling it a violation, but did not provide details on the numbers of casualties.
The Peshmerga unit, formerly stationed in western Kirkuk, claimed that the Iraqi forces were trying to hide their casualty figures by issuing such accusations.
The Peshmerga claimed the day-long fight resulted in 150 casualties (killed and injured) among the attacking forces, while they lost 6 Peshmerga.
The Joint Operations Command stated that the Hashd al-Shaabi, the federal police, and the US-trained Counter-Terrorism Service took part in the offensive that saw the Iraqi side take control of the border town between Kirkuk and Erbil.
The Peshmerga stated that Iranian Revolutionary Guards and "mercenaries" also took part in the offensive that took place outside of the urban areas as the Kurdish forces were not present in Pirde.
According to the Kurdish statement, the town of Pirde was peaceful prior to Friday and there was no justification for the Iraqi offensive. They also denied claims that the office of a Turkmen part was set of fire.
Pirde has a mixed Kurdish and Turkmen population. It was the last town in the oil-rich Kirkuk province to come under Iraqi control.