ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani declared that the Peshmerga forces are ready to ”go into the final war” against the Islamic State (ISIS), if given the weapons and ammunition they badly need.
Speaking with the London-based Arabic Al Hayat daily on Tuesday, he revealed that more than 3,000 ISIS insurgents have been killed since the militants attacked Kurdish territories last summer.
“We are ready to go into the final war against the terrorists if we are given the heavy weapons we need,” Barzani said.
“We won’t allow the atrocities to happen again and indeed we will not forgive those who slaughtered innocent people and kidnapped Yezidi women,” he said, referring to ISIS atrocities against minority, especially the kidnapping of girls and women.
Military sources say most Kurdish areas seized by ISIS in Iraq have been recaptured in sustained military campaigns across the vast southern and western frontiers of the Kurdistan Region.
Peshmarga troops have been holding up a 1,600-kilometer long frontline against the often better-equipped ISIS fighters.
But the decisive battle against the militants is anticipated in Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city and an ISIS stronghold since capture last June.
Kurdistan Region Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani said in an interview last month that he believed that battle would not begin before next fall.
President Barzani had said the Peshmerga will not fight that war alone. But it is largely believed that a victory over ISIS in Mosul is impossible without Peshmerga troops fighting alongside the Iraqi Army and coalition forces, which so far have not committed to combat troops during months of fighting.
“I am confident we can defeat the Islamic State but I have to admit this war is even harder than the war against Saddam’s army,” he said, referring to ousted Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
Barzani lamented that 10 generals have been among the 800 Peshmerga soldiers who have so far been killed in the war.
“It was a heavy price that was paid by our brave fighters, but we had to pay it, because our honor and dignity were at stake,” he added.
Barzani said about 17,000 square kilometers have been recaptured from the ISIS and that the radical group is no more seen as “invincible.”
He vowed that Kurdistan would seek “justice but not revenge.”
“We will not forgive those who collaborated with these savages and helped them terrorize innocent people,” he added.
The Kurdish president, who has often visited the war fronts, said there were many heartbreaking stories of “heroism and bravery” on the deadly battlefields.
“I went to see the mother of three Peshmarga brothers who were killed on the same day,” he said in an emotional recollection.
”It was a difficult moment. I told her that she was the mother of us all, that all those who gave their lives were her sons. She said she had two more sons to give who were just as ready to give their lives for their homeland.”