Alwaght- Kurdish militias, Peshmerga, have helped ISIS terrorists and their families escape the town of Hawijah prior to its liberation by the Iraqi military earlier this month, an Iraqi commander told.
Mahdi Taki, a commander with the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMU), also known by its Arabic name Hashd al-Shaabi, told the Middle East Eye (MEE) news portal on Monday that ISIS terrorists had bribed the Kurdish forces to secure their safe passage.
ISIS elements “have escaped Hawijah via Peshmerga positions and [before the Hawijah battle began] the Peshmerga received 160 ISIS leaders,” he said.
“We are getting this information directly from our Peshmerga contacts. There are some bad Peshmerga who love money more than patriotism, and they are taking bribes from ISIS,” he added.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced the liberation of Hawijah on October 5 following a two-week military campaign that involved the army, police, special forces units and the PMF. The Peshmerga did not participate in that operation.
Another PMF commander, who was speaking on condition of anonymity, also confirmed the ISIS-Peshmerga ties, saying Takfiri terrorists have mainly fled to the Kurdish city of Erbil while their families have mostly been relocated in the city of Kirkuk.
“According to our intelligence sources, we estimate that in total 3,000 ISIS - including leaders, fighters and families have gone to the Peshmerga from Tal Afar, Hawijah and the surrounding areas,” he told the MEE.
According to some PMF units in and around Kirkuk, fleeing costs started from $1,000 for an ordinary ISIS terrorist and $2,000 for a family and rose up to $10,000 for a senior ISIS element.
When the Takfiri terrorists arrived at a checkpoint near Dibis District, close to Kirkuk, they either handed the Kurdish forces a wad of cash or items of value, and were then allowed a safe passage to the Iraqi Kurdistan region.
“This was a good chance for the Peshmerga because they have no money, and only limited weapons,” said an unidentified Iraqi army major.
Meanwhile, another commander with PMF, Ali al-Heideri, stressed that the escape of ISIS terrorists from Hawijah was not a new thing, and that the relations between the two sides span over the past three and a half years.
“And this is not the first time the Peshmerga have been together with ISIS. It was exactly the same with [the battle for the city of] Tal Afar," he said.
Heideri further pointed out that the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) not only welcomed ISIS, but any terrorists in the region who were looking for refuge.
Sheikh Kareem Harkani, also a commander of PMF said, “It was the Peshmerga who gave ISIS to Iraq in the beginning, with most of them coming here from Turkey via Dohuk, so they’re leaving the same way they entered.”
Peshmerga, ISIS collaborate in smuggling oil
Separately, Hawijah local councilor Nurhan Mizhir al-Assi said locals had information over the ISIS-Peshmerga cooperation in the illegal smuggling of Iraqi oil.
“It was Kurdish oil trucks that came here under ISIS and drove the oil to Turkey. Civilians who stayed here told us exactly what was happening,” he said.
Iraq's Federal Police Confirm ISIS and Kurdish Fighters Cooperation
Iraq’s Federal Police deputy commander Abu Theraham al-Moutour also confirmed PMF reports saying "intelligence reports confirmed that some 500 ISIS Terrorist had fled from Hawija to the Peshmerga just days before the Iraqi forces reached the town," Middle East Eye reported.
“We know they are not being taken prisoner, so maybe they will fight against us with the Peshmerga in the future," he said.
Harkani said any future alliance between ISIS and the Peshmerga was a potential problem that would be dealt with easily and swiftly by the Iraqi forces.
“Iraq has become so strong and united now, with all our military forces working together. Therefore, if the Peshmerga use Daesh to fight against us, the Kurds will be the bigger loser, even more than Daesh,” he said referring to ISIS terrorist group using an Arabic acronym.
Harkani was also nonchalant about the long-term future of any alliance between ISIS and the KRG which, he predicted, would inevitably backfire on the Kurds.
“Those Daesh who have gone inside Kirkuk, in the future, will surely turn against the Kurds,” he said, reiterating that the Kurds stood only to lose from any partnership with ISIS.