The Kurds’ war against the so-called Islamic State may be grabbing headlines for the battles on the frontline, but far from the fighting the conflict has been good business for 36-year-old Kurdish Erbil gunsmith Bakhtiar Sadr ad-Din Aziz.
Aziz specializes in repairs and custom guns for the Kurds, and Peshmerga are lining up to pick up one of his custom creations, or just to get fixes done on one of their aging AK-47s, M16s or DShK heavy machine guns.
Bakhtiar’s shop is located in the Iraqi Kurdish capital Erbil’s central bazar, and Bakhtiar said it is a family business that was owned by his father, who was once imprisoned by the Saddam Hussein regime for supporting the Peshmerga.
Bakhtyar, Gunsmith : 01'24'' - 1'42'' My father went to the frontlines and the Saddam Hussein regime government arrested him and imprisoned him for two decades. He was working in the shop I am in now and the Peshmerga were sneaking weapons to him so he could fix them. So the authorities found out about him and arrested him. After he was released the KRG gave him a pension for being a political prisoner. 1'42'' - 2'13'' ISIS is terrifying everyone in this region and I would like to ask other countries to help us because ISIS fighters are barbaric. If they take control of Iraq they will take control of all Arab nations, and they will make trouble with the European countries as well and they will get stronger. I call on the whole world to help the Peshmerga, because the Peshmerga are fighting on behalf of all the other countries. 2'14'' - 2'30'' I often go to the frontline and sometimes battles happen while I’m there. They’ve even attacked us with rockets. Also, we moved our guns forward to the frontlines with the Peshmerga. 2'31'' - 2'53'' I often train Peshmerga on the frontline on how to work on and fix the weapons. However, sometimes I need to fix them by myself. Every time I try to train them on the weapons, but there are some issues only I can handle.