- Title: The Kurdish gun 'fixer' taking aim at Islamic State
- Date: 7th November 2016
- Summary: KORRE, IRAQ (NOVEMBER 6, 2016) (REUTERS) EXTERIOR OF WEAPONS REPAIR SHOP OWNED BY FORMER PESHMERGA FIGHTER SIGN READING (Kurdish): "KORRE GUN SHOP, FOR REPAIRING ALL KINDS OF WEAPONS" VARIOUS OF OWNER OF WEAPON REPAIR SHOP, MOHAMMED FADIL, WORKING VARIOUS OF WEAPON PARTS SET AGAINST THE WALL (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) PESHMERGA FIGHTER AND WEAPON REPAIR SHOP OWNER, MOHAMMED FADIL, SAYING: "How did I learn this? I was a peshmerga fighter, I joined the forces in 1986 with my brother. Whenever a weapon had issues at the front, we would repair it. We did not have many tools, but we would fix small issues. So we learned this when we were with the Peshmerga." VARIOUS OF FADIL USING A CIRCULAR SAW WEAPON PART FADIL HAMMERING WEAPON PARTS (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) PESHMERGA FIGHTER AND WEAPON REPAIR SHOP OWNER, MOHAMMED FADIL, SAYING: "We can fix interior parts of the weapon, whenever they break we can repair them. Our parts and the materials we use are even better than those used by manufacturers who produce the weapons. If theirs can withstand 5,000 bullets, ours can take 10,000." VARIOUS OF FADIL WORKING ON WEAPON PARTS (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) PESHMERGA FIGHTER AND WEAPON REPAIR SHOP OWNER, MOHAMMED FADIL, SAYING: "I go (to the frontline) for two from the other fighters? I have a duty to defend my country. Every Kurdish person must defend their country." VARIOUS OF FADIL INSPECTING WEAPONS VARIOUS OF WEAPON PARTS IN THE SHOP
- Embargoed: 22nd November 2016 11:38
- Keywords: Peshmerga fighter gun fixer Iraqi Kudistan weapon
- Location: KORRE, IRAQ
- City: KORRE, IRAQ
- Country: Iraq
- Topics: Conflicts/War/Peace,Military Conflicts
- Reuters ID: LVA00157G0JTH
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:In Iraqi Kurdistan, he is simply known as Uasta - "the fixer".
For the past 30 years, Mohammed Fadil has been turning hardened steel salvaged from car suspensions into delicate firing pins and other weapon parts to repair the guns used by Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga forces against their many enemies - and now these weapons are being turned on Islamic State.
Fadil joined the peshmerga - which means "those who confront death" - when he was 15 and has been fighting and fixing weapons for free ever since.
"I was a peshmerga fighter, I joined the forces in 1986 with my brother. Whenever a weapon had issues at the front, we would repair it. We did not have many tools, but we would fix small issues," he said in his workshop in a small village 40 km (25 miles) northeast of the Iraqi Kurdistan capital Erbil.
Since 1945, the Iraqi Kurds have fought Iran, the forces of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and sometimes each other.
For the past two years, the peshmerga has faced a new enemy in Islamic State, most of the time fighting with meagre resources and ancient weapons.
"I have a duty to defend my country, every Kurdish person must defend their country," said Fadil, whose attitude exemplifies the fierce nationalism that has characterised the Iraqi Kurds' decades-long struggles against a host of enemies.
"I go (to the frontline) for two reasons, to repair weapons and to fight. If there are DShKs (heavy machine guns) that need fixing, I will repair them. But if there are none, what should I do? I will fight."
Demand for his services has risen dramatically since mid-October when peshmerga forces joined the Iraqi army in an offensive to dislodge Islamic State from Mosul, a stronghold which the jihadists have held since mid-2014.
Iraqi forces are pushing from the south and east into Mosul and Islamic State have lost control of seven eastern districts of the city to Iraqi Special Forces who broke through their lines last Monday.
The offensive involves around 100,000 Iraqi soldiers, federal police, Shi'ite militias and peshmerga fighters, backed by the airpower of a U.S.-led coalition.
Fadil has repaired every kind of weapon on the battlefield, from AK-47 assault rifles to artillery pieces.
"We can fix interior parts of the weapon, whenever they break we can repair them.''
On a metal shelf in his workshop, a British Bren machine-gun from the 1960s stands next to a U.S. manufactured M16 assault rifle, both repaired by him for use by the peshmerga.
A row of Soviet-era DShK heavy machine guns, known as Dushkas in the Middle East, and RPG-7 rocket propelled grenade launchers - many battle-scarred with bullet holes - await his attention as he uses rudimentary tools to manufacture a steel part to replace a broken Dushka cocking lever.
"Our parts and the materials we use are even better than those used by weapons manufacturers. If theirs can withstand 5,000 bullets, ours can take 10,000" Fadil says.
Among those who benefit from his services are peshmerga Special Forces' soldiers who prefer to replace the firing pins on their assault rifles with those he manufactures.
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