Kurdish Forces Hit ISIS Positions Near Mosul

Şıvan Sıddık/Anadolu Agency/AFP
Şıvan Sıddık/Anadolu Agency/AFP

While Americans digest the reality of Iraqi army units fleeing from battle against the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) despite months of rhetoric from the Obama administration about their improved performance, the Kurds are still very much in the game.

ARA News reports on a Kurdish assault against ISIS positions west of the Islamic State’s stronghold in Iraq, the city of Mosul:

An official source from the Special Forces of the Kurdish Peshmerga in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq reported that their fighters launched several attacks on IS headquarters near the village of Asheq west of Mosul in northern Iraq.

The source added that the Kurdish fighters, supported by the coalition’s warplanes, were able to kill dozens of IS militants on Tuesday, and destroy a number of the group’s armored vehicles.

According to the source, the IS radical group was planning to launch an attack on the Peshmerga’s positions in Kasak area, which is considered a fighting frontline between the Kurds and the militants west of Mosul.

The Rudaw news agency adds that Peshmerga forces have also been busy east of Mosul. “With the help of the coalition airstrikes, the Peshmerga managed to bombard two ISIS convoys near a kerosene factory in the village of Ishk on the Tigris front,” Kurdish Captain Dilshad Maulood announced on Monday, adding that a number of the Islamic State’s military vehicles were also destroyed.

International Business Times notes that Kurdish forces have been holding the line against ISIS near Mosul for months, fending off regular suicide car bomb attacks from the militants. “It is a very real threat for the Kurdish fighters, 70% of whom have been killed in attacks using IEDs or suicide bombings,” IBT reports.

IBT mentions the ongoing weapons shortages plaguing the Kurds, whose assaults on ISIS positions are often BYOG (Bring Your Own Gun) affairs. “This lack of equipment has prompted the Kurdish government in Iraq to call for the West to send more weapons, given that the Peshmerga are expected to be involved when the Iraqi army finally rally to take back Mosul from IS,” the article observes.

That would mark a dramatic shift in U.S. policy, which has insisted on routing most military supplies through Baghdad, which prefers to give them to their own Iraqi army units, who proceed to drop them on the battlefield when they retreat before the Islamic State. The Iraqi government is perpetually nervous about empowering the Kurds, but they are handling a great deal of the heavy ground fighting, and they are certainly better friends to the U.S. than Iran-backed Shiite militias.

The Kurds are not short of the “will to fight” and “moral cohesion” so conspicuously lacking in Iraqi forces of late. “When we go home, we miss being here,” a Kurdish machine gunner told International Business Times, referring to the front lines of the war against ISIS.