The three Peshmerga, Hardi Adnan, Mohammed Hassan and Shuwan Karim, were taken captive by Daesh 96 days ago. Photo: PUK media
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Three Peshmerga held hostage by ISIS for 96 days were rescued by the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK)'s counterterrorism forces on Sunday. The freed Peshmerga were from the Garmiyan bloc in the Kurdistan Region.
“We have a very happy feeling. We were captives in the hands of Daesh [ISIS] for 96 days, and we were blindfolded the entire time. We are seeing the world now for the first time after 96 days,” Shwan Karim Mohammed, one of the freed Peshmerga, told PUK affiliated channels Kurdsat and Gali Kurdistan.
He thanked the PUK counterterrorism forces for rescuing them, saying they suffered badly at the hands of their captors.
They were rescued in the Dubiz area of Kirkuk, which has experienced a serious security breakdown in recent months.
The three Peshmerga appeared on camera with long hair and beards, something ISIS imposes on its followers and captives alike.
“We were blindfolded for 96 days. We could not see anything. I am delighted now,” said Mohammed Hassan Ahmed, one of the freed captives.
“For 96 days, not to see your mother, father, children, not to see anything … Mr. Polad and Lahur [Talabani] did something unthinkable for us. I would like to announce it from here that I am a PUK [member], and I tell every PUK [supporter] not to turn their backs on it. I really thank them. They rescued us from the ocean,” the third captive Peshmerga, Hardi Adnan, said.
“After 96 days of being held hostage by ISIL, these three very brave Peshmergas were finally reunited with their families. Incredibly proud of our CTG forces in their relentless pursuit to ensure they were returned safely back,” Lahur Talabani, the head of PUK’s counterterrorism forces, said in a tweet.
“These comrades were captives in the hands of Daesh for 96 days. We had laid out plans in the past 20 to 30 days, and we wanted to carry out the task two to three times, but we couldn’t because it would jeopardize their lives. We were able to successfully carry out the operation,” Polad Talabani, commander of the counterterrorism forced, told the channels.
He said their forces have a special division dedicated to freeing captive Peshmerga.
Dozens of Peshmerga are thought to remain in ISIS captivity. The families of missing Peshmerga believe their sons may have been arrested by Iraqi forces who mistook them for ISIS fighters.
A Kurdish MP in the Iraqi parliament, Ashwaq Jaf, is leading an investigation into the whereabouts of the lost Peshmerga.