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Kurdish president's son and grandson fight IS on front-line

Friday, November 04, 2016 - 01:06

Kurdish president's son and grandson fight Islamic State on front-line, saying they are 'ready to die.' Rough Cut (no reporter narration).

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ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION). STORY: Several generations of the prominent Kurdish Barzani family have been fighting on the front-lines to defend their land. Iraqi Kurdish regional President Massoud Barzani's son, Mansour Barzani, is the Commander of the Peshmerga Special Forces. His son, Yasser, fights next to him. Instead of finishing college, Yasser left the United States last year to return to the Kurdish region in Iraq and help battle Islamic State (IS) militants. "I wanted to come here and be part of this," said Yasser, who could be easily confused with one of the European special forces aiding the peshmerga. "I had so many other choices but I chose this myself." Yasser, in his early 20's, was in Virginia studying English when he heard the news of Islamic State invading the Kurdish region, and decided that he would join his father on the battlefield. Commander Mansour Barzani say he treats all peshmerga as family, the way his ancestors did. "Really, we learned from my father, when he said to me there's nothing different between you and other peshmerga, it means I have to say there's nothing different between my son and peshmerga," said Commander Barzani, whose father, and grandfather, both fought for Kurdistan's Independence. In mid-October, when the Iraqi military and coalition forces launched an offensive against various positions occupied by Islamic State around the city of Mosul, President Barzani order the Kurdish peshmerga - among them the president's two sons, Mansour and Weisi, and his grandson, Yasser - to lead the charge on the front line. The peshmerga forces successfully charged into enemy territory and cleared vast areas of road-side mines, neutralized suicide car bombers, and helped free several IS controlled villages before holding their position just a few kilometres north of Mosul. Commander Barzani heads a 6,000 man battalion of specially trained peshmerga, which includes over 200 advanced military vehicles but he claims it's not enough to fight Islamic State's well-armed military. Despite available technology, the peshmerga have been removing improvised explosive devices with their hands, and taking heavy casualties as a result of suicide bombers, which the commander blames on lack of weapons. One kilometre east of Mosul, another peshmerga commander Hussein Yazdanpanah, from the Kurdistan's Freedom Party, a party opposing President Barzani's Kurdistan Democratic Party, says he too is battling IS with even less equipment than the special forces. In a text message, Commander Yazdanpanah confirms that he is desperately in need of advanced military weapons such as the German-crafted Milan. His much smaller battalion, around 50 men and women, has suffered several injuries and one casualty in recent days, which the commander blames on regional and interior politics. Commander Barzani thanked the Germans for providing the Milan, a device able to target suicide car bombs but reiterated that they need more advanced weapons. Commander Barzani, who has been injured four times himself, pointed out that they were not the only father-son or brother combination on the battlefield.

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Kurdish president's son and grandson fight IS on front-line

Friday, November 04, 2016 - 01:06