Local fighters have enlisted in the Peshmerga and received training under the Kurdish ministry. Photo: Farzin Hassan/Rudaw/file
DOHUK, Kurdistan Region – Over the past two weeks, 2,000 Arabs from the Iraqi town of Zemar have enlisted to form a brigade of their own under the general command of the Kurdish Ministry of Peshmerga.
The Arab communities themselves asked Kurdish President Masoud Barzani to form the brigade, which will be responsible for protecting the Zemar area, northwest of Mosul.
“The name of this brigade will be the ‘Brigade of West Dijla Peshmerga,’ comprising of Arabs from Zemar, Rabia, Ayazya and a number of villages in Sinjar. Their duty will be to protect their areas under the command of the Ministry of Peshmerga,” Sheikh Muzaam Ahmed Al-Uwet, a spokesperson for tribal forces of Nineveh Province, told Rudaw.
Enlistment for the new Peshmerga brigade was completed on November 24, 2016 and 2,000 Arabs enrolled, according to Al-Uwet. “We are due to undergo training this week near the military bases of Sahela,” he added.
The town of Rabia, on the Iraq-Syria border, is administered by Nineveh Province, and has 154 villages belonging to it. The area fell to the Islamic State (ISIS) in August 2014, and was liberated by the Peshmerga in October 2015.
Sheikh Ali Rakan, one of the Sheikhs from Zemar, and 50 of his tribe members had enlisted. “We ourselves asked the Kurdish President Masoud Barzani to form this brigade for us. We have been living under the rule of the Kurdistan Region for the past two years, and our situation is very good. We want to stay part of the Kurdistan Region forever,” he told Rudaw.
“Hundreds of Kurds lost their lives liberating our areas, which is why we are ready to defend the Kurdish territory inch by inch. We are ready to discharge our duties wherever we are assigned for duty in the Kurdistan Region,” he added. “We are ready to sacrifice ourselves.”
Recruitment was done in coordination between Kurdish and Arab leadership, according to a superintendent of recruitment.
“We started the recruiting process with the consent of the local Arabs and by the order of the commander-in-chief of the armed forces of the Kurdistan Region, Masoud Barzani. All those who have enlisted have done so by their own will,” Idris Haji told Rudaw.
“This brigade will take orders from the Ministry of Peshmerga, and its duty will be to protect Zemar and its surrounding villages,” he added.