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Iraqi Kurds inaugurate two unified divisions

Iraqi Kurdish soldiers on parade during the inauguration of the 1st and 2nd Peshmerga divisions. (Presidency of the Kurdish Region - Iraq)

An inauguration ceremony for the 1st and 2nd divisions of the Kurdistan Regional Government's (KRG's) unified forces was held in northern Iraq on 4 April.

In his speech during the event, KRG President Nechirvan Barzani said the new divisions are being formed with personnel from the Joint Brigade, 70 Forces, and 80 Forces who are being transferred to the KRG's Ministry of Peshmerga. He added that both new divisions will have four brigades, each with 1,200 personnel.

The 70 Forces are loyal to the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) that dominates the east of the Kurdistan region and the 80 Forces are loyal to Barzani's Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP).

The US-led coalition welcomed the inauguration of the divisions as a “vital step … towards Peshmerga reform”. For years, the US has encouraged and supported the unification of the two Kurdish parties' forces under the Ministry of Peshmerga, to which it pays stipends for vetted personnel.

The coalition reported in 2022 that the ongoing unification process had provided the Ministry of Peshmerga with just over 48,000 personnel serving with the 1st and 2nd supporting forces commands (around 5,500 personnel each), 20 Regional Guard Brigades (up to 2,000 personnel each), two independent infantry battalions in Sinjar (Shingal), and several training centres.

The formerly KDP 1st Supporting Forces Command and formerly PUK 2nd Supporting Forces Command were transferred to the Ministry of Peshmerga in early 2022

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