Kurdish Soldiers serve with distinction in the Iraqi Armed Forces against Daesh
MASTER SGT. WALEED KHALED SALEH MAZOURI BARZANI
HEADQUARTERS COMPANY, 1ST SPECIAL OPERATIONS COMMAND, IRAQI COUNTER-TERRORISM SERVICE
I joined the Iraqi Special Operations Command in 2003 and have had the honor to participate in most of the battles of liberation. I remain a loyal Soldier dedicated to defending Iraq, its unity and its sovereignty.
The reason I joined this force is that its fighters exhibit extraordinary professionalism and loyalty to the homeland. I am proud to be part of anti-terrorism forces whose members include all Iraqi factions without exception and enjoy a unique relationship, whose spirit embodies teamwork, familiarity, love and loyalty to Iraq.
We are brothers in arms and our goal is the security and independence of the homeland. When we fight terrorism, we do not consider ourselves Arabs, Kurds, Sunnis or Shiites, but only Iraqis. I have participated in most of the battles against al-Qaida in Iraq, and in the operation “Charge of the Knights” against the terrorist gangs in Basra and Baghdad, and in all battles against Daesh.
We have fought terrorist organizations, whatever their names and sectarian affiliations. We have not hesitated to hit any group that wants to tamper with the security of the country.
As a Kurd, I take great pride in being part of this strategic force. I am proud of the Kurdish heritage and the history of my people, but I am equally proud that I am an Iraqi and a fighter defending the land and security of Iraq. I live in the province of Dohuk in the north of the country, but I have been in Baghdad for 15 years and participated in all the battles in defense of a unified Iraq under a constitution that protects all segments of society.
We do not favor any ethnicity or sect. You will find Kurd and Arab, Christian and Muslim fighters living like brothers in the barracks or in the trenches, and we protect each other from the treachery of terrorism.
Sometimes I spend my vacations visiting fellow fighters from Basra or Maysan. I get to know their families and spend fun times together with them. Especially in the winter, when Dohuk’s weather is cold, I head south to find the homes of my friends open to me with their traditional Iraqi hospitality.
During the summer, I invite them to visit Dohuk and enjoy the beautiful weather as heat waves envelop southern Iraq. These heroes have become my family. The people of Nasiriyah became my friends because of my repeated visits to them, and my neighbors in Dohuk became acquainted with all my friends from the southern provinces when we have gathered during holidays and other occasions.
In addition to that, one of my brothers from the south asked me to help move his mother to one of Dohuk’s specialized hospitals. I did so and received his family in my house for more than two weeks until his mother healed and returned to their province.
These stories are not unique to me — they exemplify the principles and values of the Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS). “We do not have a party or a sect; we are loyal Soldiers to protect the security and sovereignty of Iraq, and we are fighting under the banner of one Iraq,” our commander, Staff Gen. Talib Shaghati Alkenani, said at one of his news conferences. “This is what all the members of the Counter-Terrorism Service believe.”
The CTS is the safety valve for the security of Iraq, and we as combatants know the importance of working together outside a narrow ethnic or sectarian perspective. We know that the strength and coherence of our force stems from our belief in the unity of Iraq and the flag of Iraq.
In one battle, I was injured and needed an immediate blood transfusion, and my companions made a quick donation of their blood. Today, the blood of Maysan, Nasiriyah and Basra flows through my body. This is proof that we do not recognize affiliations other than belonging to Iraq, and we pray that God forever protects these brothers and the love between us.
When on leave, I eagerly awaited meeting my friends in Baghdad, a place that holds many memories for me. We went together to the historic cafes on Al-Rasheed Street, Al-Zawra Park, enjoying refreshments and eating masgouf fish on the banks of the Tigris on Abu Nawas Street. As I passed through the Karrada district near the Church of Our Lady of Deliverance, I remembered the heroic events in which I participated — liberating hostages and killing terrorists belonging to the so-called Islamic State of Iraq in 2010.
The family of one of our Christian fellow fighters was inside the church, and we were able to save them from death and celebrated their safety upon completion of the mission.
I know Baghdad as I know Dohuk, and I have special relationships with the cities of Iraq where I had the honor to defend my people and liberate them from the clutches of terrorism — Jurf Al Sakhar, Fallujah, Yusufiyah, Tarmiyah, Sadr City, Mosul and Basra. The blood of Kurds, Arabs, Sunnis, Shiites and Christians has mixed in every one of these spots in the land of Iraq where we battled terrorists.
Especially in the battles to liberate Mosul, the tales of valor exceeded those we saw in the world wars. The fighting was fierce, and we stood in the same trenches — Arabs and Kurds — to liberate our people in Mosul. After the fighting, my comrades and I donated our salaries to help displaced people whose situation was dire.
Of course, the war against these gangs is a fateful war for Iraqis, and all factions of Iraq have fought with honor. In the battles north of Mosul, we were working together with our brothers in the peshmerga forces and tribal forces to liberate those villages. We shared gear and food with them. The peshmerga fighters played a significant role in securing supply routes for us as we fought together to expel terrorists.
When I go to Dohuk wearing my special operations uniform, people greet me with proud smiles, and Kurds ask me to pose for souvenir pictures. The Counter-Terrorism Service has earned great respect in the provinces of the region because of its national orientation and the ethics of its fighters. It is a disciplined force loyal to Iraq.
We owe it to our commander, Gen. Alkenani, for building a distinctive force loyal to Iraq. He supervised the training curricula and lectures that reinforced love of the homeland and rejection of sectarianism in the hearts of the fighters. Therefore, we find no one among us who stands outside the unit, and we respond firmly in opposing those who want to spread talk of sectarianism and ethnic separatism.