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Kurds Plead For Western Troops To Battle IS

Tuesday, 30 September 2014 18:06
RAF jets are now flying daily over northern Iraq. Pic: MoD RAF jets are now flying daily over northern Iraq. Pic: MoD

-Sky News, 29 September 2014- 

If there is a city that simply has to be taken back, a city whose fall to Islamic State shocked the world and a city which encapsulates the complexity of the IS crisis, it is Mosul.

Lying on a huge plain you can see it through the sand-filled skies in the distance from the Kurdish peshmerga's newly-built high positions.

In the foreground there is little or no movement in a series of villages that have fallen under the control of IS.

The peshmerga are waiting. They want to attack, but if truth be told they simply do not have the ability to do so.

It is blowing a gale across their fortified encampments. A huge building programme of berms and camps is at full tilt.

These mountains are where they are strong and where the peshmerga tradition of surviving against all the odds is folklore.

Their ageing weapons are pointed at the roads that lead deeper into Kurdistan and the capital, Irbil.

Their leaders are urging the international coalition's jets to strike here and to strike hard. But they emphasise that air power will not be enough. A ground attack into urban areas will be needed.

Local commander Bapin Harki told me: "These are our lands. We will take them back and we will get rid of IS. I promise you that.

"We need airstrikes, but eventually it has to be ground forces."

Despite the difficulties of combating IS in Iraq and Syria, the peshmerga have shown what can be done - even if it is on a small scale.

In the battle-scarred village of Hasan Shami, liberated from IS in the past week or so, buildings are smashed and crumpled.

Bridges were blown by retreating militants and there are booby trap bombs in houses and on the streets.

We came across a car wired to explosives, probably to be set off by a remote device like a mobile phone.

This was a big battle and there will be more to come for sure.

But with the help of coalition jets it happened. That is the point.

The peshmerga had support from the skies and felt reinvigorated, according to their commanders. They drove IS out and they say they will do it again and again until they are gone.

It won't be that simple of course. But it is a start.

As the international coalition plans its airstrikes on IS here in Iraq, as well as Syria, there is a growing understanding that beating IS will take a mixture of politics, air power and ground warfare.

The Kurds are doing it already. They are waiting for help.

Read more: http://news.sky.com/story/1343807/kurds-plead-for-western-troops-to-battle-is

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