Iraqi Turkmens want role in Kirkuk fight, demand arms and salary from Baghdad
KIRKUK – Anadolu Agency
ISIL militants passing a checkpoint bearing the group's trademark black flag in the village of Maryam Begg in Kirkuk. AP PhotoIraqi Turkmens have said they want to help defend the northern Iraqi province of Kirkuk against Islamist jihadists along with Kurdish militants and have asked Baghdad to supply arms and a budget.
“We also want to contribute to the defense of Kirkuk with the Peshmerga,” Arshad al-Salihi, the head of the Iraqi Turkmen Front (ITC), told state-run Anadolu Agency on Nov. 28.
However, he said, “We have some demands from the central Iraqi government.”
Iraq should provide arms and salaries to Iraqi Turkmen militias as it does with Iraqi forces and the Peshmerga, according to al-Salihi.
He said there are a substantial number of armed Turkmen militias willing to fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), but they keep them out of the organization due to the lack of a legal status.
“We are waiting to have a legal status from the central government,” he said, asserting their demand is the recognition of Turkmens as a national security force, rather than as a militia.
The Iraqi Turkmens are estimated at around 3 million and are considered the country’s third-largest ethnic group.
The community’s leaders have been asking for supplies and equal treatment from the western world and Turkey, complaining about support to region for “being in favor of the Kurds in the country.”