As the war against the Islamic State drags on in Iraq the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has started acknowledging its casualties. At first, Irbil like Baghdad was suppressing its losses to keep up morale. There were daily reports of clashes with dozens of IS fighters being killed with little on how many Peshmerga had fallen. Now that fighting has become more sporadic and the imminent threat from the insurgents has receded the Kurds have become more open.
As time has passed the KRG has begun revealing more about its dead and wounded. The first release of information came in December 2014 when the government issued a report that 727 Peshmerga had been killed and 3,564 wounded since June. In February 2015, Peshmerga Minister Jabbar Yawar told the press that 999 fighters had died and 4,569 wounded from June 10 to February 3. Three months later former Kurdish parliamentarian Mohammed Othman said that 2,822 Peshmerga had died fighting IS, which included those killed in Syria. Later that month a Kurdish lawmaker stated that 1,205 had died and 6,595 wounded. In July, the Peshmerga Ministry revealed that there were 1,212 fatalities and 7,000 injured. Finally, in October the KRG reported that 1,300 Peshmerga had died and 5,000 wounded since August 2014, and then later the Peshmerga Minister said that 1,258 had passed and 7,301 injured. Most of these figures were higher than what was already in the media. For example, the December report revealed an additional 166 deaths and 1,113 wounded. The most recent statements have been even bigger with 314 more killed and a whopping 6,294 injured. In total, the KRG has now admitted that it kept 1,979 deaths and 9,919 wounded secret.
As the KRG feels more secure it is slowly beginning to divulge the losses it has suffered to the Islamic State. When the fighting first started Irbil would only publicize a fraction of its casualties. Instead official propaganda focused upon its victories. Now that the situation has become more stable the KRG wants to become more transparent about what it has gone through. That can play on both domestic and international fronts as the regional government can now more openly talk about its sacrifices. It’s also an important reminder that the true costs of the war against IS in Iraq is still largely being obfuscated by officials. Thousands more people have lost their lives and been harmed by the violence, and their fate has not been made public.
Agence France Presse, “Nearly 1,000 Iraq Kurds killed fighting IS since June,” 2/4/15
eKurd, “Iraqi Kurdistan News in brief – October 26, 2015,” 10/26/15
Millet, “Peshmerg Minister Reveals Latest Casualty Figures,” 7/2/15
New Sabah, “3 thousand Peshmerga killed in war against terrorism,” 5/27/15
Rudaw, “Ministry: 1,300 Peshmerga dead since start of war with ISIS,” 10/2/15
Sadiq, Hoshmand, “More Than 1,200 Peshmerga Killed Since IS War Began,” Bas News, 5/31/15
Xinhua, “Over 700 Iraqi Kurdish fighters killed since IS rise in June: report,” 12/10/14