— Abu John (@IslamTvchannel) October 21, 2017
On October 21, Iraqi security forces arrested three suspected who were looting and burning civilian houses around Kirkuk city. The suspects were allegedly pretending to be fighters of the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU).
Iraqi sources claimed that the three suspect are fighters of the Kurdish Peshmerga, a military force of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). However, this still has to be confirmed.
The suspects reportedly used a mini truck with a Shiite banner on it to rob civilians and blame the crimes on the PMU.
Since the Iraqi Army and security forces started its operation to secure the disputed areas in northern Iraq, several Kurdish media outlets launched a fake news media campaign arguing that the PMU is leading the operation and committing multiple war crimes against Kurds and Sunnis. However, Iraqi officials denied on many occasions that the PMU is a leading part of the ongoing operation to restore control over the disputed areas.
The Kurdish media is likely promoting this to spark a sectarian crisis between Shia and Sunnis who support the Federal Government. However, so far these propaganda stunts have done no real damage to the public image of the PMU, the Iraqi Army and security forces.
In other cases, the Kurdish media, and even some KRG officials published fake news and photos to hide Peshmerga setbacks across northern Iraq.
On October 20, Hemin Hawrami a senior assistant to Kurdistan president Masoud Barzani published old photos of destroyed US-made M1 Abrams tank and other armored vehicles on Twitter.
Hawrami claimed that the photos show tanks and vehicles of the Iraqi Army that were destroyed by the Peshmerga during the clashes in Altun Kupri town near Erbil city. Even after Iraqi activists proved that the photos were old, Hawrami didn’t delete his tweet or apologize.
This morning in Prde. Peshmerge forces destroyed those American Tanks & Hamvees which were used by PMF Khwrasani , AAH & Badr corp . For us this is an existential fight to Kurdistan last person. pic.twitter.com/MoMgv9JIs4
— Hemin Hawrami (@heminhawrami) October 20, 2017
In turn, these moves of Kurdish media outlets and some KRG officials will likely damage the public image of the KRG.