A Kurdish Peshmerga fighter standing at the top of a hill near Duhok, Iraqi Kurdistan. Photo: ARA News
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QAMISHLI – In return for the $415m aid to the Kurdish Peshmerga forces, the Pentagon expect the Peshmerga to play a critical role in the future operations against the Islamic State (ISIS) in Mosul, the Pentagon said. However, the question remains whether local Sunni civilians would welcome a Peshmerga role in Mosul.
A Western journalist asked the US State Department if Sunni Arabs would welcome the Peshmerga forces to Mosul. However, the US says they cannot make any comment on this.
“I simply am not going to make a prediction about the degree to which people are welcomed or not welcomed. Peshmerga forces have been brave and courageous in the fight. We have, through the Government of Iraq, supported them. We will continue to do that,” US State Department spokesperson John Kirby said on Tuesday.
“They [Kurdish Peshmerga forces] have played a vital role thus far in the fight against Daesh [ISIS]. Our commitment to them remains. I’ve talked about this. We talked about this yesterday. Nothing’s going to change about our commitment to helping them through and with the Government of Iraq in Baghdad,” he added.
However, Sunni Muslims who fled from ISIS in Bayji and villages near Qayara suggest that they would welcome the Peshmerga in Mosul.
“First of all, they are Sunni, and they have some kind of principles,” said Adib (35), a Sunni Muslim from Bayji. “They protect us right now,” he said.
Abu Hassan (52) another Sunni Arab agreed. “The Kurds are religiously close to us, and the Peshmerga protect my kids, relatives, father, mother and friends. My whole family and relatives are living in Kurdish areas, where Kurds have shown a lot of respect,” he told ARA News.
“The most Sunni Arabs think we would like to be freed by Mosul tribes and the Peshmergas, this is my answer, we don’t need any Shia, or Hashd [Shia militias],” he said. “ISIS and Hashd come from the same source and ideology, they want to steal and explode everything.”
“Some Iraqi army units are good, especially the SWAT forces,” Hassan told ARA News.
According to Sirwan Barzani, one of the most important Peshmerga commanders on the Mosul frontline, the Sunni Arabs are against Shia militias.
“They don’t want Shia militias to come; it’s not because they are dying for us [Peshmergas]. They know we don’t damage their houses, or kill for nothing, but maybe they think Shia militias will do this,” Barzani told ARA News.
However, he said it would not be a good idea for the Peshmerga to go inside of Mosul city, since the people might not welcome the Peshmergas.
“We don’t want to have anything like what happened between the Shia and Sunnis. Unfortunately we are part of Iraq and Mosul will always be dangerous for the Kurdish people, so we have to participate, but from where, how, I don’t know. There is no final detail and plan yet,” he added.
Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg
Source: ARA News