Rojava Peshmergas not trained by Turkey: Kurdish official

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Rojava’s Peshmerga forces in Barzan town of Iraqi Kurdistan. File photo

ARA News

Kurdish Peshmerga officials and Turkish officials have confirmed to ARA News there has been no training by the Turkish army to Syrian Kurdish Peshmerga fighters in Iraqi Kurdistan.

“The Rojava Peshmerga forces are trained by the Zerevani forces, we don’t know who trained them before that. In the beginning of the anti-ISIS war, for nearly two months [Iraqi Kurdish] Peshmergas were trained in Atrush and Sulaimani by some Turkish trainers [in 2014]. A very limited training for Peshmerga forces, there were no other training,” Jabar Yawar, the Peshmerga spokesperson said in response to a question by ARA News reporter during the Sulaimani forum at the American university of Sulaimani.

“The training of Rojava Peshmerga forces is related to the Zerevani forces [Kurdistan Democratic Party-affiliated forces], which are part of the Interior Ministry [of Iraqi Kurdistan], not the Peshmerga Ministry,” Yawar said.

The former Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu had visited the Peshmerga’s military training camp in the Diyana and Berseve refugee camp in the district of Zakho on Nov. 21 2014.

Speaking at a joint press conference on Nov. 21 with the KRG’s President Masoud Barzani, the prime minister said the training was to meant to improve security in Iraq and Kurdistan.

“The security of all of Iraq has vital importance for Turkey. Having a border with Turkey, the KRG’s security is also important. Turkey will lend all kinds of support to the Kurdish region. This is a historical, humanitarian and strategic issue,” Davutoğlu said.

Turkey has been criticized by Kurdish officials for not providing support to the Iraqi Kurds, when ISIS attacked the Kurdistan Region in August 2014. This while the Iranian government provided immediate support.

Furthermore, the Turkish army has been training Sunni Arabs in the town of Bashiqa since 2015 for the Mosul operation. However, their role in the Mosul operation was limited due to opposition from Baghdad.

Rojava Peshmerga fighters told ARA News that they have been trained in Khinis near to Duhok by the Zerevani forces since 2012, but not by Turkey. So far, they have only fought against ISIS in Iraqi Kurdistan, and not in Syria, since the People’s Protection Units (YPG) have refused their return to Syria, suggesting that having two Kurdish forces in Syria could lead to internal clashes.

Turkish officials told ARA News off the record that there has been only training of Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga forces, and that they are willing to provide training support in the future, if the Kurdish government requests it.

Since 2012, the KRG’s Peshmerga forces have been training thousands of Syrian Kurds –known as ‘Peshmerga of Rojava’– to send them to Syria. “They don’t want to fight Kurds, they only want to fight ISIS,” Major General Bahjat Taymas from the Kurdish Zerevani Peshmerga forces told ARA News.

Moreover, the coalition’s Kurdistan Training Coordination Center (KTCC) established in the summer of 2015, which includes several US-led coalition’s countries, has been training the Kurdish Peshmerga forces. Also the German government and other governments have been been arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces to fight ISIS. The Turkish army training was not coordinated with the US-led coalition, and the Turkish army is not member of the KTCC.

As a result, Rojava Peshmergas also received training from the US-led coalition as part of the Zerevani forces.

On 3 March 2017, clashes broke out between 500 Syrian Kurdish Rojava Peshmergas and the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK)-affiliated Sinjar Resistance Units (YBS) in the Yezidi town of Khanasor, in which 7 PKK-affiliated fighters were killed.

Since then partisan media outlets affiliated to the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the PKK have been attacking each other, although the clashes ended quickly with the Kurds not willing to fight each other.

The PKK accused the Rojava Peshmerga and the KDP of attacking them on behalf of Turkey, while the KDP accused the PKK and YBS of working with Iran and Shia militias.

Both Iraqi Kurdish president Masoud Barzani and the PKK leadership are against Kurds killing each other. The Kurds do not want to return to the 1990s when a bloody civil war between Kurdish parties only ended after American intervention.

“We don’t want to see a Kurdish–Kurdish fighting in Rojava, that is why we have not sent back the Rojava Peshmerga,” Barzani said in January 2016.

On the other hand, the PKK leader Agid Civian told the KDP-affiliated news organization Rudaw in 2016 that the PKK was against internal conflict.

“They ask whether it is possible for an internal conflict to happen among the Kurds. Everybody should know that the era of civil war is over. The era for a civil war among Kurdistan organizations is over,” he said.

Local Yezidis have made clear that the Kurds should fight ISIS in southern Sinjar, and not each other.

“Armed groups are killing each other [in Sinjar], everyone was supposed to fight ISIS together, and return out dignity as survivors and as people,” Farida Abbas, a Yezidi survivor, said during the Sulaiforum at the American University on 8 March, condemning the clashes.

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg | Source: ARA News

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