Appearing to have been published to coincide with the Kurdish New Year on Saturday, a video purportedly showing ISIS beheading three Kurdish Peshmerga fighters in northern Iraq has emerged. Clad in all black, the Kurdish-speaking militants decapitated three Peshmerga in orange jumpsuits and threatened to kill the "dozens" more that ISIS is currently holding captive.
The Peshmerga have become one of the U.S.-led coalition's most vital allies in the fight against ISIS, having made several important gains since the fighting started. Speaking to the camera during the six-minute long clip, Reuters reported one of the militants pointed to its grievances with the Peshmerga's alliance, using the derogatory term "Safavids" to refer to Iran, who has also provided assistance to the fighters.
To the Muslim Kurdish people: know that our war is not with you, rather it is with those who ventured into an alliance with the Safavids and crusaders to wage war on the Muslims.
Late last month, ISIS released a propaganda video showing at least 21 captive Peshmerga being paraded down the streets of Iraq in cages, with one militant issuing a threat to the Kurds to leave their "jobs" or risk being held in cages or "under the ground."
Another militant in the clip issued a warning directed at Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani:
We warned you before that for every rocket you fire on those under the care of the Islamic State, you will kill one of your prisoners with your own hands.
The beheadings come following an attack by Kurdish forces on Mosul, an ISIS stronghold, in what it called a retaliation for an ISIS missile dropped on a vegetable market in Erbil on Monday, reported Reuters. Last year, ISIS beheaded a Kurdish fighter, unprecedented at the time as the Islamist militants had previously only carried out such acts on Sunnis, Shiites, and Western aid workers and journalists, including two Japanese nationals and a Jordanian pilot.
The latest video, released in time for the Kurdish New Year of Newroz — or Nawroz — has angered Kurdish communities. Former Prime Minister of Iraq's Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Barham Salih lambasted the beheadings and declared Saturday's celebration the "Newroz of defiance." Using ISIS' other moniker, "Daesh," he said:
This terror will only strengthen our resolve.... This should turn people against Daesh. Kurds should unite in support of Peshmerga martyr families and campaign for more effective international assistance to our people.
Last week, Kurdish officials accused ISIS of engaging in chemical warfare, alleging it had evidence that the violent militant group used chlorine gas, a choking agent, as a weapon against its fighters in northern Iraq. Since ISIS seized control of huge swathes of Iraqi land last summer, more than 1,000 Kurdish peshmerga have been killed in the fight against the militants and over 5,000 injured.
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