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Kirkuk Turkmen Minority Forms 600-strong Militia for Self Defense

Turkmen leaders in the disputed province of Kirkuk have created a 600-strong militia, according to the Kirkuk provincial security committee.

The Turkmen militia is being trained in the town of Yaychi, the committee revealed. It is awaiting the signature the Iraqi PM which will allow it to become a recognized armed force.

The city of Kirkuk had been under the control of Kurdish Peshmerga and Asayesh security forces, but these were ousted on October 16 by an Iraqi offensive. Prior to this, the Turkmen had asked the KRG to build a Turkmen regiment of the Peshmerga.

"This was a demand of the Turkmen component prior to October 16. As you know, there are Turkmen forces of the Turkmen Hashd in and on the outskirts of Kirkuk province. These forces belong to private security companies guarding the offices of the Turkmen Front," Ali Mufti, spokesperson for the Turkmenli party, told Rudaw.

Sami Najat, head of the Turkmen Nationalist Party, told Rudaw that Iraq has become a place where every component has its own armed forces and militias.

"That is why we are asking from the Iraqi government and the Kurdistan Regional Government to assist us in building more forces and protect ourselves. We might protect our areas in the future," Sami Najat, head of Turkmen Nationalist Party, told Rudaw.

Turkmen Hashd al-Shaabi militias have been accused of looting and destroying Kurdish houses in Tuz Khurmatu and driving out the Kurdish population following the October events.

Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) officials said they would rather see the different ethnic components participate in the existing security infrastructure.

"Any forces created outside of the existing official security forces is a militia. It is obvious that whatever militias are created they eventually are more harmful than beneficial for any nation," Jamal Shukr, deputy head of PUK's second office in Kirkuk, told Rudaw.

Kirkuk's security is currently administered by Iraqi counterterrorism forces and Shiite-majority Hashd al-Shaabi paramilitias.

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