Camp Singara, the Italian base to train the peshmerga to fight the resurgence of ISIS


By John

The Iraqi and Kurdish flags come together against the background of the Italian tricolour, with the profile of a Roman helmet to seal the collaboration and unity between peoples in the fight against Islamic terrorism.

The symbol of the Prima Parthica operation – which takes inspiration from the Roman legion of the same name created by Septimius Severus – stands out at the entrance of Camp Singarathe Italian military base that has been coordinating army training for ten years now peshmerga in Iraqi Kurdistan. A commitment born as part of the international operation against ISIS and which led to the training of thousands of soldiers, almost two thousand in the last year alone.

The base is located in the highly armored Erbil airport and hosts around 300 Italian soldiers employed exclusively in the training of Peshmerga soldiers at the request of the Kurdistan government. From courses for sharpshooters to those for riot management, from urban combat to mountain combat, the Italian mission makes its expertise available for the training of Kurdish soldiers in two training camps, that of Benaslawa and that of Atrush, in the north of the autonomous region. Furthermore, a new training area will soon be operational in Sulaymaniyya, in the southernmost area.

ISIS was defeated in 2017 but there are still pockets of resistance in Iraqi territory – are the words of the commander of the operation, Colonel Francesco Serafini – and our training activity for the peshmerga is therefore fundamental so that they can increase their capabilities to avoid a possible return of ISIS. Furthermore, the mission includes training by the Carabinieri for the Iraqi Federal Police in Baghdad. In 2023 alone we have trained approximately 3,000 agents.”

Also part of the Italian contingent in Erbil is Task Group Griffon, a squadron made up of 60 soldiers and some helicopters available to the coalition for the transport of personnel and materials to the various bases in the northern area of ​​Iraq. “Personally I am very satisfied and proud of the work done – continues the commander, who will leave Camp Singara on May 30th – but above all of having had the opportunity to deal with various joint forces, not only of the Army, but also of the Navy, of 'Air Force and Carabinieri'.

Operation Prima Parthica, however, is not just military training. The Italian contingent, in fact, is also engaged in civil and military cooperation activities to support the population through donations and charitable activities. “Our objective is to create connections between local authorities and governmental and non-governmental organizations – explains the manager, Teresa D'Amico – and with all those non-military figures who have influence on the population”. In fact, in recent days, the Italian contingent has delivered school supplies and clothing to some orphans in Erbil.

In rigorous single file they wait for their “gift”, then – with the pile of notebooks and t-shirts covering their eyes – they return to their seats, turn towards the operators and smile. While someone jumps in a very ungrammatical but touching “thank you”.