MESOP Kurdistan Iraq : Two Special Forces Peshmerga Detained by Militants

By Nehro Muhammad RUDAW – 16.6.2014 – ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Two Kurdish Peshmerga from the Zeravani special forces were detained Sunday by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), after they mistakenly drove into a checkpoint controlled by the jihadists near Mosul.“We will treat them as prisoners of war,” an ISIS fighter told Rudaw by telephone.

Muhammad Ali and Bakhtyar Najmadin, who belong to the Kurdish army’s elite Zeravani forces, were returning to their posts from Erbil in the late afternoon when they found themselves at an ISIS checkpoint near the city of Mosul, which has been in militant hands for more than a week.

Rizgar Abbas Ali, a Zeravani officer stationed near Mosul, confirmed the news.Rudaw spoke to the detainees, after the cell phone of one of the two soldiers was answered by an ISIS fighter who identified himself as the assistant for security affairs. “The Peshmergas have been detained by us, we have them and they are in good health,” said the ISIS fighter, who introduced himself as Mujbil. “The decision to release them or otherwise lies with our commander,” he said.

“I have been detained by the ISIS and they are treating me well,” Najmadin told Rudaw, after he was handed the phone by his ISIS captors. Najmadin, 33, is a native of Kirkuk, and Ali, 56, is from Halabja.

Najmadin said they had not been harmed by their captors. “We are hoping for a prisoner exchange. We are asking the Kurdistan presidency and Kurdistan Regional Government to come to our rescue,” he said.

But Abbas, the Zeravani officer, said he had intelligence that the two captives “have been beaten badly.”Mujbil, the ISIS captor, confirmed the Kurdish pair had been beaten upon capture. “As they were detained, one of our fighters had beaten them, but we will punish and flog him because in the ISIS it is forbidden to beat a prisoner.”A high-ranking Zeravani officer told Rudaw on condition of anonymity that contact has been made with the ISIS to decide the fate of the two Peshmergas. “They have promised us that they will release them and we are waiting for them to keep their promise,” he said. Kurdish Peshmerga forces have moved into areas in northern Iraq abandoned by the Iraqi Army, after an onslaught by rebels who captured Mosul last week and are now near Baghdad.