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The fighters have a common foe, but on the ground cooperation is carried out warily.
Situated on the edge of Iraqi Kurdistan – protected by the Peshmerga – rows persist in Kirkuk over ethnically mixed pockets of land.
“Saddam destroyed our houses and brought in Arab [villagers].
He cleared the village and made us refugees inside Iraq,” he said. Major Abbas and Shaker Hassan Ali, a spokesperson from the Shia Badr Organisation in Kirkuk, are quick to point out that they have Sunni fighters among their ranks.
The legacy of displacement during the rule of Saddam Hussein’s Sunni Baathists has further undermined relations.
Major Abbas, a Shia Turkmen and native of Bashir, was displaced in 1986.
Some Arabs and Shia Turkmen remain wary of Kurdish control.
READ MORE: The everyday reality of living in the Islamic 'Caliphate'Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit Cameron 'needs to do more in fight against Isis' Major Abbas was based in Kirkuk with the Iraqi army before they fled in the face of the Isis attack, but this time around, he says: “We are fighting with faith because the fatwa gave power to the Iraqi people.” Kirkuk has long been home to a diverse population and is dotted with Sunni Arab villages.But in historically diverse areas such as Kirkuk, their presence is not without its controversies.It has been 10 months since Isis captured the village.The Kurdish Peshmerga and the Shia militias of Iraq are not natural allies – but with a common enemy in the form of Isis, they must rely on each other if they are to liberate their homes.Cathy Otten reports from near Kirkuk Among the lush meadows that cover the countryside around Kirkuk, fighters from the village of Bashir look toward their home.