Peshmerga (Sorani Kurdish: پێشمەرگە, romanized: Pêşmerge, lit. 'Before death') are the military forces of the federal region of Iraqi Kurdistan. The Peshmerga and other Kurdish security forces are responsible for the security of the regions in Iraqi Kurdistan. These forces include Asayish (intelligence agency), Parastin u Zanyarî (assisting intelligence agency) and the Zeravani (military police). The peshmerga was started in 1943, but built upon a traditional, strictly tribal pseudo-military border guard under the Ottomans and Safavids.
|Allegiance||Kurdistan Regional Government(disputed, see Structure)|
|Size||247,000(disputed, see Structure)|
|Minister of Peshmerga Affairs||Mustafa Sayid Qadir|
Formally the peshmerga are under the command of the Kurdistan Regional Government's Ministry of Peshmerga Affairs. In reality the peshmerga force itself is largely divided and controlled separately by the two regional political parties: Democratic Party of Kurdistan and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan. Unifying and integrating the peshmerga has been on the public agenda since 1992 but the forces remain divided due to factionalism which has proved to be a major stumbling block.
In 2003, during the Iraq War, peshmerga were said to have played a key role in the mission to capture Saddam Hussein. In 2004, they captured key al Qaeda figure Hassan Ghul, who revealed the identity of Osama Bin Laden's messenger, which eventually led to the attack that killed Osama Bin Laden. In 2017 Peshmerga troops were part of the coalition that took back Mosul from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
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