Iraqi Kurdish officials call Iran's Soleimani film 'insult' to Peshmerga

Peshmerga that fought on the front lines against the Islamic State see the film as an "insult and belittling the role of Peshmergas."

al-monitor Iraqi youths watch an event celebrating the inauguration of a street named after the late Iraqi commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis in the southern city of Basra on Jan. 8, 2021, more than a year after a US drone strike killed Iran's revered commander Qasem Soleimani and his Iraqi lieutenant Muhandis (image) near the capital. Photo by HUSSEIN FALEH/AFP via Getty Images.

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krg, islamic state, massoud barzani, kurdistan region of iraq, qasem soleimani, peshmerga, iraqi kurdistan

Jan 26, 2021

A new film portraying Iran’s former Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani as saving Iraqi Kurdistan during the Islamic State’s incursion in 2014 has angered the Kurdistan Regional Government, which has lodged a formal complaint with Tehran over what it calls “distorted facts.”

“Unfortunately the film has not done any justice to the sacrifices of Peshmergas nor to the Iranian units,” head of the KRG’s foreign relations department Safeen Dizayee told Al-Monitor, referring to the military force of Iraqi Kurdistan.

The nine-minute film, titled “A story about the rescue of Iraqi Kurdistan by Haj Qasem Soleimani,” was released this week by Iran’s FarsNews, a state-owned media outlet tied to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. In the film, KRG President Masoud Barzani appeals to allies for protection during his country's war with IS. Director Mohammad Baqir Mofidi Kia suggests that Erbil would have fallen without the help of Soleimani, a statement disputed by KRG officials. 

Many Peshmerga that fought on the front lines are still alive today, and Dizayee said that they see the film as an “insult and belittling the role of Peshmergas.”

The complaint was filed with Iran’s consul general in Erbil, Nasrullah Rashnudi, on Sunday. The KRG representative in Tehran, Nazim Omer, was also asked to bring the matter to the attention of regime authorities.

Despite the charge, the KRG holds long-standing warm relations with Tehran. Kurdish officials have repeatedly confirmed that Iran was among the first countries to offer assistance to the Peshmerga when IS marched north. When the Peshmerga were ill-equipped and Baghdad never took it upon itself to arm them, Iran responded by sending ammunition and mortars, a KRG official told Al-Monitor. And a report by Reuters in August 2014 found that Iran started fighting with boots on the ground as early as mid-June 2014.

Between 2014 and June 2017, the KRG cited 1,760 Peshmerga had been killed fighting IS, about 9,000 were wounded and 63 others were missing. 

Soleimani and deputy Popular Mobilization Units chief Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis were killed in a US drone strike in Baghdad in January 2020. Soleimani’s death has since been used as a rallying cry against US intervention in the region and encouraged Iraq’s Parliament only two days after the strike to vote for a plan to end the US troop presence in Iraq.

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