ISIS has released a new video where a senior Kurdish Peshmerga Commander is beheaded by terrorists belonging to the terrorist organization Islamic State in Iraq.
In the gruesome video, recorded 23.01.2015, the Commander is sitting on his knees in a street in Mosul, while a ISIS terrorist, flanked by two others, reads out the sentence in Arabic. He then takes out a knife and cut the head of the commander in front of a large crowd of bystanders.
The Peshmerga, whose name translates as "those who face death", are the Kurdish fighters in northern Iraq. In recent weeks, they have been fighting Islamist militants of the Islamic State - formerly known as Isis - who seized large swathes of territory in the north.
Now thought to number around 190,000, the Peshmerga have their roots in groups of loosely organised tribal border guards in the late 1800s, but were formally organised as the national fighting force of the Kurdish people after the fall of the Ottoman Empire in the wake of World War One.
As the Kurdish nationalist movement grew, so too did the identity of the Peshmerga as a key part of Kurdish culture - evolving from tribal defenders to nationalist fighters for an independent Kurdish state
The modern-day Peshmerga are mostly veterans from the fighting against Iraqi government forces, and from infighting between Kurdish factions.
The majority (75%) of Kurds are Sunni Muslim, belonging to the Shafi school.
There is also a minority of Kurds who are Shia Muslims, primarily living in the Ilam and Kermanshah provinces of Iran, Central and south eastern Iraq (Fayli Kurds).
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