Peshmerga or Peshmerge (Kurdish pronunciation [pɛʃmærˈɡæ]; Kurdish: پێشمەرگە Pêşmerge, literally “those who confront death”) is the term used by Kurds to refer to armed Kurdish fighters. The Peshmerga forces of Kurdistan have existed since the advent of the Kurdish independence movement in the early 1920s, following the collapse of the Ottoman and Qajar empires which had jointly ruled over the area. Peshmerga forces include women in their ranks. Many Kurds will say that all Kurds willing to fight for their rights are Peshmerga. The term remains in contemporary usage, sometimes written as pesh merga in Anglophone media. The Peshmerga has proven to be an effective army, providing security to all ethnicities. During the US led invasion of Iraq the Peshmerga helped the United States in their mission to capture Saddam Hussain. They also captured al-Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden’s messenger Hassan Ghul in 2004, which eventually led to Operation Neptune Spear in which U.S. Navy SEALs located Bin Laden in his compound in North Pakistan, where he was killed in the ensuing gun fight.
The term Peshmerga is also the official name of the armed forces of the Kurdistan Regional Government in the semiautonomous Kurdistan Region.