Kurdish forces face weapons shortage in battle for Sinjar

Many tribal sheikhs say that most of what they receive are old weapons from peshmerga forces.

Mount Sinjar // There was a surprising dearth of new weaponry on Mount Sinjar considering the scale of the ISIL onslaught that took place earlier this year.

When The National visited last month, many tribal sheikhs complained that most of what they received are old weapons from peshmerga forces.

With a minimal front-line presence, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (PDK) had distributed the weapons to loyal tribal fighters.

Sheikh Khery of the Jafrian tribe, who had been fighting in the area around Shashem Temple on the north-western side of the mountain, said he had only received one heavy machine gun and a handful of AK-47s.

Sheikh Qassem Derbo, who had received more help than most other groups, said he had been handed 10 sniper rifles, seven rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs), six light machine guns, two mortars and a 12mm Dushka machine gun, and some trucks over the past three months.

Sheikh Khalef Qassem Melko of the Simoki tribe, who is fighting in the town of Bara, said he had not received most of the weapons the PDK promised him, but he hoped to take a helicopter to Iraqi Kurdistan to collect them.

Sheikh Khalef Murad Aato, of the Hababa tribe, said he had received 25 AK-47s, one 12mm machine gun, two sniper rifles, two RPGs and two light machine guns. Sheikh Ghazi of the Osseva tribe said he had received absolutely nothing from the PDK.

Sheikh Qassem Shasho had received the most, including seven heavy machine guns, at least 20 RPGs, 20 sniper rifles, some AK-47s, and a number of mortars.

Most of these tribal fighters also said the majority of the weapons supplied were older, previously used models. For example, after Sheikh Derbo claimed that all the weapons the PDK had given him were new, one of his soldiers corrected him, noting that it was a mix of old and new weapons.

Many fighters in the Sinjar area also carry M-16s acquired from dead ISIL fighters. The weapons had been supplied by the United States to Iraq’s army and were taken by ISIL from captured military bases in places such as Mosul.

foreign.desk@thenational.ae

Published: December 18, 2014 04:00 AM

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