Date
19 September 2017
A missile streaks over the city of Kobani during fighting between Islamist militants and Iraqi Kurds. Photo: Reuters
A missile streaks over the city of Kobani during fighting between Islamist militants and Iraqi Kurds. Photo: Reuters

Iraqi Kurds yet to make real headway in battle for Kobani

Iraqi Kurdish forces defending the besieged Syrian city of Kobani have halted jihadist advances and stopped militant reinforcements but have yet to gain significant progress on the battlefield.

The Iraqi Kurdish forces known as Peshmerga have launched counter-offensives to drive the militants out of Kobani, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing Shoresh Hesen, spokesman for the Syrian Kurdish militia.

Armed with heavy weaponry, the Peshmerga also helped boost morale on the ground.

Still, the 150-strong force has yet to make a breakthrough in the battle, raising the possibility that the mission to help defend the small but strategically important city could evolve into a grinding campaign, the report said.

“There has been no radical change on the ground yet,” said Brig. Gen. Halgord Hekmat, spokesman for the Peshmerga Ministry in Erbil, capital of the Kurdistan regional government in northern Iraq.

“But the battle is moving from a defensive to an attacking phase.”

He cited the unfamiliar terrain and close-combat urban warfare as challenges faced by Iraqi Kurdish fighters more accustomed to guerrilla attacks and defending long internal borders in their neighboring homeland.

Thursday’s assessments contrast with last week’s triumphant Peshmerga entry to Syria, which raised expectations that the fight backed by United States-led airstrikes against Islamic State would rapidly shift to help secure Kobani.

Military analyst Salih Akyurek said the fanfare that greeted their deployment created unrealistic expectations, the report said.

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