The former Secretary of the Ministry of Peshmerga MoP of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) says that the confession of a senior commander of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Syria ISIS official is not a proof that there are no missing Peshmergas alive and all were executed while a member of the Kurdistan parliament argues that ISIS has left behind no any prisoners.
On June 9, KirkukNow reported that the commander of ISIS execution battalion in Kirkuk province, who is currently imprisoned in the Kirkuk detention and transfer prison, admitted that he ordered the slaughter of Peshmerga (Kurdish fighters) prisoners in 2015 and supervised the process himself.
Some of their graves are in the forests of Bagara village in Hawija district, south of Kirkuk, while four bodies are in the house of a judge in the same district, the captured militants of ISIS said.
Jabar Yawar, secretary general of the MoP who retired on Sunday, told KirkukNow before leaving office, “The families of the missing Peshmergas are now receiving their salaries from the Ministry of Peshmerga until their fate is decided whether they are still alive or not.”
The confessions of the ISIS fighter do not constitute 100% proof that there are no missing Peshmergas
"There is no confirmed information on whether the missing Peshmergas are still alive or not. If they are not alive, we must first work to find their bodies and then DNA tests to verify their identities," he added.
According to the statistics obtained by KirkukNow from the official institutions of the KRG, more than 62 Peshmergas fell into the hands of the extremist militants of ISIS or went missing, 21 of them are from Kirkuk.
"There are 42 people who officially receive salaries from the Peshmerga Ministry," Yawar said. The 42 people do not include the Zeravani forces, the emergency defense forces, the 70th forces under the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan PUK and the 80th forces of the Kurdistan Democratic Party KDP.
"Their relatives come to the ministry from time to time to inquire about them. Some of them told us their bodies are buried in Mosul or in a prison near Taji in Baghdad but after follow up, it was all rumors.”
Regarding the new reports that some of them are buried in Hawija mass graves, “we need to investigate this as well,” he added.
"The excavation of mass graves requires the formation of a special committee at the level of the Peshmerga minister (KRG) and the minister of martyrs (of the Iraqi government) to excavate the mass graves," Yawar affirmed.
In Mid-June, a number of lawyers, civic and political activists in Kirkuk said in a press conference as a team they will voluntarily advocate for the case of Peshmerga prisoners beheaded by ISIS back in 2016 so that the case is not undermined by the central government in Baghdad or the KRG in Erbil.
The families and relatives of the missing Peshmerga blame Baghdad and Erbil for not taking their cases seriously into consideration since 2017 when the Iraqi government declared the defeat of ISIS in Iraq.
The ISIS commander was arrested earlier this year on charges of killing his cousin under Article 406 of the Iraqi Penal Code in a security operation in southern Kirkuk, but later investigations revealed that he was responsible for the execution of several other people during ISIS rule from 2014 up to 2017.
Osman Karim Swara, deputy chairman of the Peshmerga Affairs Committee in the Kurdistan Parliament, said “Daesh (ISIS) was not an organized force and it was not a state to have prisons. Unfortunately, they (the Peshmerga prisoners) were (all) martyred.”
Daesh (ISIS) itself is gone, where are its prisons? Unfortunately, they were (all) martyred
"We asked the Ministry of Martyrs to register all the missing Peshemrgas (captured by ISIS), and now all preparations have been made for this," Swara said.
"The exact number of missing Peshmergas is not determined because it is not only what the Peshmerga Ministry publishes and belongs to them, but there are also missing members of the Zeravani, Support units, 70th and 80th units," he added.
The Kirkuk Martyrs and Anfal Victims Directorate, a body under the KRG, intends to investigate the confessions of the ISIS commander and the places where he allegedly mentioned the Peshmerga prisoners are laid off.
Khalil Rahim, director of the Kirkuk Martyrs and Anfal Victims, said, "We are seriously investigating with the Kirkuk police command to reach the ISIS fighter and get accurate information from him in which mass grave the Peshemrga prisoners were buried?”
"It is the duty of all of us to retrieve the bodies. We are trying our best, but the area is under the control of the federal government and we cannot enter without the federal government,” Rahim said.
"We have spoken to the police in Hawija in recent days, and they say they do not have complete information about the mass graves in Hawija," he added.
"But there are mass graves in the area and it is not known where the bodies are... The problem is that the Iraqi government has a lot of routines to excavate mass graves."