ERBIL – Tariq Ahmed Jaff, deputy commander of the Peshmerga’s 9th Brigade, said on Sunday that his unit will not accept any more foreign volunteers. Previously, foreigners were allowed to join the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in their fight against the Islamic State (ISIS) in Iraq.
“At this time no more volunteers will be accepted into the 9th Brigade. The volunteers currently on staff are the final volunteers to the unit. Those seeking to volunteer with the Peshmerga must work with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) directly,” Jaff said.
“This is in line with the policies of the entire Peshmerga Military in compliance with the wishes of the KRG. Any person in violation will be subject to removal from the country and may face prosecution or arrest. Any previous volunteers are not excepted to this and have no special privilege to return,” he stated.
Initially some foreign volunteers were accepted in the Kurdish Peshmerga, especially in areas of Iraqi Kurdistan under the control of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). Recent “misconduct” by foreign volunteers has made the Peshmerga forces wearier.
In March, 41-year-old British volunteer Barry Hall was deported, after media outlets reported that he was “a convicted rapist”.
According to Jaff, the foreign volunteers have been mixed. Some of them joined the Peshmerga’s ranks but did not show real commitment to the anti-ISIS campaign. Some of them have participated in important battles and have proven themselves as good soldiers.
“We still have good people that are serving now and remained true brothers and heroes to us. We thank every volunteer for their service,” Jaff stated.
A Peshmerga volunteer, who spoke to ARA News on condition of anonymity, said “there was not much activity on the ground anyway”.
Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg
Source: ARA News