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Peshmerga soldiers.
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Peshmerga soldiers. Photo: Jan Sefti.

Peshmerga soldier.
ZOOM - Open a large version of this image

Peshmerga soldier. Photo: Jan Sefti.

Female peshmerga in 2008.
ZOOM - Open a large version of this image

Female peshmerga in 2008. Photo: Jan Sefti.

Kurdish freedom fighters of modern times. "Peshmerga" is Kurdish for "one who is ready to die".
The history of the peshmerga goes belongs mainly to the 20th and 21st centuries, and in recent times their fighting groups have been northern Iraq and eastern Turkey. Kurdish fighters of earlier times are not referred to as peshmerga. In 2005 there were between 80,000 and 100,000 peshmerga in the north of Iraq.
Peshmerga wear traditional Kurdish clothing, like baggy trousers and a simple jacket with colourful scarfs. Women are allowed to join, and they represent an important part of the peshmerga armies.

1920's: First emergence of peshmerga when the control over the Kurdish areas was temporarily lost with the collapses of the Ottoman and Qajar empires, and local Kurdish groups tried to establish themselves. This era of peshmerga was fairly short, as control of this region was reestablished.
1980's: Conflict between Kurdish groups, led by parties like PUK, KDP and PKK and Turkish central government.
1987: Iraqi peshmerga of KDP and PUK establish small pockets of Kurdish areas liberated from Baghdad, along the border to Iran.
1988: Iraq reconquers the liberated Kurdish areas.
1994 May: Small war between the Iraqi PUK and KDP, resulting in more than 1,000 dead.
2003: Peshmerga fights together with US troops with the US/British-Iraq Invasion of Iraq.

By Tore Kjeilen