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PUK insurgency
Part of the Iraqi-Kurdish conflict
IraqiKurdistan DeFactoMap.png
LocationIraqi Kurdistan
Result Indecisive; Kurdish Rebellion of 1983




Commanders and leaders
Iraq Saddam Hussein

Jalal Talabani
Nawshirwan Mustafa

Ali Askari

Mustafa Barzani
Massoud Barzani

Abdul Ghassemlou
Total: 800+ people killed

The PUK insurgency was a low-level insurgency by the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) against the state of Iraq after the defeat of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) in the Second Kurdish–Iraqi War, forced that organization to declare a ceasefire and move into exile. Due to lack of foreign support, however, the guerrillas were only able to operate in the highest regions of Iraqi Kurdistan's mountains.[1] The insurgency later joined with Iranian forces during the Iran-Iraq War and were backed by Iran in the Kurdish Rebellion of 1983.


Autonomy in Iraqi Kurdistan was originally established in 1970 as the Kurdish Autonomous Region following the agreement of an Autonomy Accord between the government of Iraq and leaders of the Iraqi Kurdish community. A Legislative Assembly was established in the city of Arbil with theoretical authority over the Kurdish-populated governorates of Erbil, Dahuk and As Sulaymaniyah. The autonomy plan however collapsed over a dispute over the oil rich town of Kerkuk, resulting in the 1974-1975 Second Kurdish Iraqi War.

After the 1975 Algiers Agreement, when the KDP lost Iranian support, the KDP was defeated and forced to move in exile while the Iraqi military re-asserted control over all of Northern Iraq.

The Insurgency

Intra-Kurdish fighting

In the aftermath of the Second Kurdish Iraqi War, KDP groups ambushed and killed PUK fighters on several occasions in 1976–1977.[2] Talabani vowed revenge, and at various moments ordered his troops to fire upon any KDP troops – but suffered from operational weaknesses compared to the KDP. Feuding and splitting continued throughout the late 1970s, as the KDP, PUK, and KDP-I jostled for influence and funding from neighboring states.[3]


The PUK and KDP jointly sided Iran in the Iran-Iraq War, which erupted in 1980. Through the warfare between Iran and Iraq Kurdish rebellion took place in north Iraq, initiated by both PUK and KDP. With backing of Iranian forces the rebels managed to gain control of several parts of Kurdsitan, however after the Cease-fire between Iran and Iraq came into effect, the Kurdish rebels were crushed by the Al-Anfal campaign.

See also


  1. Galbraith, Peter (2006), The End of Iraq: How American Incompetence Created a War without End; Simon and Schuster. ISBN 0-7432-9423-8
  2. McDowall, David. A Modern History of the Kurds. London: I.B. Tauris, 2007 ed. p. 344
  3. McDowall, David. A Modern History of the Kurds. London: I.B. Tauris, 2007 ed. p. 346

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