By Brenda Stoter for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.
When Hemin Zangana was sent to the front line in August 2014, he and his fellow peshmerga fighters were determined to recapture the Mosul Dam from the Islamic State.
They told each other they would rather die during this important mission than accept the fact that IS was in full control after Kurdish forces partially retreated from the area. For several nights, Zangana wasn’t able to sleep properly.
“The peshmerga were weak, too weak. It was the hardest battle I had ever experienced. Yet we were convinced we had what it took to defeat IS,” he told Al-Monitor.
On Aug. 18, 2014, Kurdish peshmerga fighters and Iraqi troops retook Mosul Dam from IS militants. After that, Zangana was sent to al-Gweir, Kabisa and Rabia, where he fulfilled his duty as a peshmerga. In Rabia, a small border town between Iraq and Syria on the road to Mosul, he experienced “the worst of all horrors” during the winter of 2015.
“One night, a young peshmerga fighter went outside to call his family. It was cold and dark outside when I went out to check on him, finding him lying on the ground, covered in blood. I carried him, put him in the car and drove straight to the doctor. With the rain hitting our windows, we couldn’t see anything. On top of that, IS militants started to shoot at us. Luckily, we all survived,” Zangana recalls.
He is now back in his hometown, Erbil, where he works a second job as a driver for expats. He needs this extra work to support his wife and children, because his pay as a peshmerga does not allow him to make ends meet. Zangana is not the only one.