Kurdish Peshmerga fighters repelled a “major attack” by Islamic State (ISIS, ISIL) terrorists near Erbil in northern Iraq, various news outlets report.
Initially, the two sides were too close, making U.S.-led airstrikes impossible.
“But by 3 a.m. local time Wednesday, the Peshmerga had succeeded in forcing ISIS back, allowing airstrikes to begin,” reports CNN.
About 200 ISIS jihadists launched a major assault on Tuesday night in the vicinity of Gwer and Makhmour, two towns located about 30 miles southwest from the Kurdish capital Ibril.
An unnamed Kurdish commander told BBC that “the militants had changed their tactics, and that instead of using vehicles they had walked towards the Peshmerga positions using camouflage that concealed their infra-red heat signatures.”
“The Kurds have now regained most of the ground they lost in the summer and begun to surround Mosul, as Iraqi government forces prepare to launch an assault to recapture the city,” notes BBC. “However, Peshmerga commanders say they remain poorly armed compared with the jihadists.”
ISIS has been the primary target of more than 1,200 airstrikes launched by the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq since August.
Peshmerga commander Sirwan Barzani told Agence France-Presse (AFP) that 34 ISIS terrorists had been killed and no territory was lost.
Barzani is reportedly related to Kurdistan President Massoud Barzani. Citing unnamed commanders, CNN reports that the airstrikes contributed to the ISIS fatalities.