17 Feb 2015 – Senior Kurdish Official Fails in Bid to Free Peshmerga Prisoners / Details of KRG senior official Kosrat Rasool revealed by BasNews

Basnews | Hemin Salih – 17.02.2015 – Erbil – Attempts by Kurdistan Region Deputy President and Deputy Secretary General of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) Kosrat Rasool to free Peshmerga prisoners broke down after rumours of a prisoner exchange deal between Islamic State (IS) and the Peshmerga were published by Kurdish media.

The failure of the rescue attempt is being blamed on Rasool’s opponents in the PUK informing Kurdish media of his plan to secure the release of the captured Peshmerga in an IS prisoner swap.A source told BasNews that Rasool enlisted the help of a prominent Sunni Arab sheikh, who mediated negotiations. However, the source claims that unknown opponents of Rasool informed the media, and by doing so scuppered any chance of success.

Kurdistan MP and member of the Parliamentarian Committee for Peshmerga Affairs Qadir Watman told BasNews, “There have been some attempts to free the Peshmerga prisoners but they were unofficial as IS is not committed to international principles and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) will not negotiate officially with the extremists.

“The unofficial attempts were made through Arab tribal leaders,” Watman said, “and we have been informed through well-placed sources that the Peshmerga prisoners are alive.”Peshmerga Ministry Spokesman Halgurd Hikmat told BasNews that they are concerned about the fate of the prisoners and as it is a sensitive subject, speculation in Kurdish media places the Peshmerga and their families in a difficult situation. Kurdistan Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani expressed the government’s concerns and told the press on Monday, “This very sensitive issue must be treated consciously and professionally by the media.”The 17 Peshmerga have been held by IS militants since clashes in south Kirkuk took place last month. Footage recently released by IS shows them in steel cages wearing orange jumpsuits, raising concerns for their safety.