Tags: Barack Obama | Iraq | ISIS/Islamic State | Americans | soldiers | Peshmerga | ISIS

Americans Joining Peshmerga Fight Against ISIS

Americans Joining Peshmerga Fight Against ISIS
(Marwan Ibrahim/AFP/Getty Images)

By    |   Monday, 23 February 2015 12:47 PM

American fighters, including former soldiers, are joining forces behind the scenes with the Kurdish peshmerga in the battle against the Islamic State, saying they want to destroy ISIS and its caliphate before the militants' threat spreads further.

Three such fighters, who asked that their identities be kept private over worries that their families back home could become targeted, told The Daily Beast in an interview at a peshmerga base near the Iraqi city of Kirkuk that fighting ISIS is tough, but they wanted to join in the battle.

One of the men, "Jeremy," 28, of Mississippi, fought with U.S. forces in Afghanistan and Iraq and has been with the peshmerga for six months. Another, "Leo," 38, is from Texas and has worked for private military contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the third, "Mel," 41, from Colorado, claimed he served with the army of an unnamed European country. Mel and Leo have been with the guerrilla army for two months.

All three said they are not drawing a salary for their services.

Jeremy told The Daily Beast that ISIS is more of an invasion force, so the warfare is different from that which he experienced with U.S. occupation forces.

"ISIS are tough, real tough,” he said. "It’s very different fighting a group that’s trying to take over."

Special: Find Out Everything You Need to Know About the Rise of ISIS — Click Here

The three said they usually are put to work guarding Kurdish military officials and transporting jihadist prisoners, who, they said, have come from countries all over the world to join the ISIS battles.

They claim they have been assured by the United States that they won't be penalized for joining the Kurds, and Jeremy said many of his former Army comrades would also like to join the fight against ISIS, but have been blocked after announcing their plans on social media.

The three men said they have no interest in Kurdish politics, but they just want to defeat ISIS and don't believe the Iraqi Army is equal to the battle.

Leo told The Daily Beast that he fears that if ISIS isn't defeated, he'll end up fighting the threat on other battlefields later. He further said he is disappointed in how President Barack Obama has handled ISIS' rise.

Jeremy said he felt obligated to use his military training against ISIS, and Mel said he was convinced to join the Kurds because of the large numbers of foreigners joining up with ISIS.

But still, they consider themselves "Americans, 100 percent," Mel said. And Jeremy had trouble answering whether guilt is playing a part in his return to the Middle East, but Leo told the news website that matters would have been different if American troops hadn't been pulled out of Iraq.

Americans aren't the only ones joining the Kurds.

Ageed Kalary, a commander in a unit of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) stationed in the village of Matara, said a former Canadian had joined the force until recently. In addition, an Australian union leader and Labor Party president was fighting with Kurdish YPG fighters in Kobani, reports said.

And then there is Matthew VanDyke, the head of The Sons of Liberty International, who recently tweeted that he is in Iraq "helping to raise a Christian army" to fight ISIS.

While Jeremy, Leo, and Mel say they are volunteering to support the Kurds, there are others who are treating the fight like a business and trying to make money from the war.

"It’s mostly mercenaries or people coming over here to build a security company,” said Mel.

Special: ISIS: Everything you need to know about the rise of the militant group — Click Here

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American fighters, including former soldiers, are joining forces behind the scenes with the Kurdish peshmerga in the battle against the Islamic State, saying they want to destroy ISIS and its caliphate before the militants' threat spreads further.
Americans, soldiers, Peshmerga, ISIS, Islamic State, kurds
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2015-47-23
Monday, 23 February 2015 12:47 PM
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