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The Peshmerga
The Peshmerga

The Kurdish word “Peshmerga” translates as “one who faces death” – it’s also the name of Iraqi Kurdistan’s military force. After the so-called Islamic State or ISIS militants attacked Iraqi Kurdistan, drastically changing the autonomous region’s stability in 2014, the Peshmerga have played a major role in defending Kurds, Arabs and refugees alike. Peshmerga soldiers, some as young as 17, fight ISIS with very little supplies often using archaic, Russian-made weapon systems dating from the 1950’s. A soldier will typically make about $300 USD a month - many of them send their earnings home to support their wives and children. Because of a lack of funding from the government they most often buy their rifles with their own money on the black market, while many of them use their own vehicles in the conflict, driving their personal cars to the front line or riding in the flat bed of unarmored trucks. Since the battlefield often leaves no time for sleeping, soldiers take short naps during the day in between heavy episodes of fighting. Regarding his units’ shortage of body armor and helmets due to a lack of funding, one soldier stated, “This is war.  If God wills us to die in war, we will die. Body armor won’t stop that.”

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The Peshmerga
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The Peshmerga

The Kurdish word “Peshmerga” translates as “one who faces death” – it’s also the name of Iraqi Kurdistan’s military force. After the so-called Islamic State or ISIS militants attacked Iraqi Kurdistan, drastically changing the autonomous region’s stability in 2014, the Peshmerga have played a major role in defending Kurds, Arabs and refugees alike. Peshmerga soldiers, some as young as 17, fight ISIS with very little supplies often using archaic, Russian-made weapon systems dating from the 1950’s. A soldier will typically make about $300 USD a month - many of them send their earnings home to support their wives and children. Because of a lack of funding from the government they most often buy their rifles with their own money on the black market, while many of them use their own vehicles in the conflict, driving their personal cars to the front line or riding in the flat bed of unarmored trucks. Since the battlefield often leaves no time for sleeping, soldiers take short naps during the day in between heavy episodes of fighting. Regarding his units’ shortage of body armor and helmets due to a lack of funding, one soldier stated, “This is war.  If God wills us to die in war, we will die. Body armor won’t stop that.”

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