NEWS | July 29, 2015

Iraqi soldier says ISIL fight is for him, countrymen to undertake

By Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve Public Affairs

IRAQ, July 29, 2015 — For one Kurdish-born soldier, joining the Iraqi security force and training at one of the coalition’s building partner capacity sites will better enable him and his Iraqi brethren to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, known as ISIL and also Daesh.

Cpl. Ayob Khursheed Rasheed said there is no mistaking the threat that ISIL poses.

“Our enemy does not discriminate between our uniform or what country we come from,” he said. “We want to kill Daesh and clear the whole of Iraq of them. We want to work with (the coalition), and you are here to support us in our mission.”

ISIL remains in control of some towns and territory across Iraq despite efforts by Iraqi and Kurdish government forces over the last 18 months.

Despite the long road ahead, Rasheed said he hopes one day all Iraqi people will be free of danger and terrorist organizations like ISIL.

“The Iraqi flag represents the whole country,” he said. ‘It represents the Kurdish and the Arabs. It represents everyone who lives in Iraq under one flag. It represents the Iraqi people. For me I was with an Iraqi division that was separated; they reassigned me to the Peshmerga, and now I am serving with the Iraqi army again.”

Rasheed said he has sacrificed much for his country and was determined to serve in the army following the horrifying acts committed by ISIL.

“I came here with my brothers to defend Iraq against Daesh,” he said. “Daesh has raped our females, killed our families and pushed us from our lands. We are all hurt so bad that we have volunteered to defend the country and our families.”

Originally from Kirkuk, in northern Iraq, Rasheed is the only male from his family.

“My mum didn’t want me to join the Iraqi army but [my family] is really proud I am serving and defending the country,” he said.

Rasheed is currently being trained as part of the building partner capacity mission, and he said he is grateful for the skills he is learning but knows that the fight against ISIL is for him and his country.

“If we do not defend our own country, who else is going to defend it? You are here to help us but not defend our country,” he said. “We have to defend our own country. If God willing, and hopefully with the help of you guys and the heroes of Iraq, we will continue to defeat Daesh. We cannot just depend on you guys for the rest of our lives. We need to get better to defeat Daesh and defend our country without support from you.”

Success in Iraq also requires the support of the population.

“The Iraqi people need to support the Iraqi army by providing information on terrorists,” Rasheed said. “My hope is that the whole Iraqi population and all the people in Iraq cooperate because the Iraqi army cannot fight and defeat Daesh by itself with no information.”

Coalition forces continue to support Iraq, and as ground actions increase in tempo, Daesh is now under increasing pressure, said Col. Wayne Marotto, CJTF-OIR chief of public affairs.

“Progress has been made particularly in northern Iraq with the installation of security in key areas including Kirkuk province, which has resulted in Daesh losing their freedom across a quarter of the territory that up to a year ago they had held,” Marotto said. “Iraqi security forces are also continuing to maintain a foothold on territory but there is still a ways to go.”

There are more than 1,200 coalition personnel from 11 nations advising, assisting and training Iraqi forces. More than 11,500 Iraqi forces have completed unit-level training.