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The Kurdish Situation Report: September 14th, 2015

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The Kurdish Situation Report is a weekly update on the latest news coming from the four Kurdish regions in Iraq, Turkey, Syria and Iran. The Kurdish Situation Report is co-produced by the Washington Kurdish Institute and The Kurdish Project.

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Iraqi Kurdistan

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The United States announced plans to train 9,000 new Peshmerga soldiers in Iraqi Kurdistan. Over 5,000 new recruits have been signed up for the training, which will be conducted under the auspices of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG)’s Ministry of Peshmerga.

A Joint Coalition Command Center (JCCC) was established in Iraqi Kurdistan to better coordinate the fight against the Islamic State. The command center will help coordinate efforts by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), Iraqi Government in Baghdad, and the US-led coalition.

Blood samples taken by German intelligence services indicated that Kurdish Peshmerga forces in Iraq have been subject to chemical weapons exposure. The Islamic State militants are thought to have obtained the chemicals necessary to make mustard gas from either Saddam Hussein’s old stockpiles, or the chemistry laboratory at the University of Mosul.

Kurdish Region of Turkey

After some 30 Turkish police and military members were killed in Eastern Turkey in the last week, the Turkish government resumed its military campaign against Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) outposts in Iraq. The operations include airstrikes, as well as a special forces raid — the first time in two years that Turkey has put boots on the ground in Iraq.

The pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) headquarters in Ankara were set aflame by Turkish nationalists, and 126 pro-Kurdish HDP provincial and district offices across Turkey were also attacked. The attacks come after the PKK has increased its attacks on Turkish military outposts and Turkish policemen. For its part, the HDP is calling for a ceasefire between the PKK and the Turkish government.

A Dutch journalist was jailed after covering the pro-Kurdish HDP in southeastern Turkey, where the Turkish government has imposed a curfew in the city of Cizre. The arrest comes only days after several VICE journalists were arrested in southeastern Turkey, and charged with allegations of assisting ISIS. The suppression of journalists has not been uncommon in Turkey’s recent history.

Kurdish Region of Iran

Hundreds of Kurdish-Iranian followers of the Yarsan faith, known as Kakai, have joined the new wave of migration to Europe, leaving behind a country that has failed to recognize their ancient religion. In an interview with Rudaw, a young Kurdish Kakai man said, “There are many more of us now leaving Iran because of the systematic discrimination against us“.

Kurdish Region of Syria

A Yazidi-Kurdish woman, who has been held by the self-proclaimed Islamic State, is said to have shot and killed an Islamic State commander who was forcing her into sex slavery. Not much is known about what happened to the girl after she allegedly killed the ISIS commander. Hundreds of Yazidi women and girls are still held by the self-proclaimed Islamic State terrorist group.

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