Tag Archives: Kurdish

US Marines Enter Ground Combat in Iraq to Defend Oil Fields

by Jason Ditz

Even as Pentagon officials have sought to emphasize their claims of ISIS being “on the run,” ever more US ground troops are being deployed into Iraq to try to cope with ISIS offensives, with the battle of Makhmur leading to the introduction of US Marines in front-line combat roles.

Officials are trying to downplay the operation as “force protection” for Iraqi ground troops, who have been massing in the area in an effort to ultimately launch an attack on the ISIS-held city of Mosul, not far away.

The explanation is unsatisfying for several reasons, but primarily because this “tactical assembly area” already includes thousands of Iraqi troops and Kurdish Peshmerga, and these are the same troops who are supposed to attack Mosul. Yet these troops are apparently unable to even hold Makhmur, let alone advance toward Mosul.

The Makhmur District is also a key to holding oil fields around Kirkuk, and the ISIS offensive is seen by many analysts as part of an effort to ultimately regain control over those lucrative oil fields, and have been “outgunning” the thousands of Iraqi troops in the area.

Whether they’re trying to save Iraqi ground troops who still can’t stand up to ISIS, or save oil fields, however, the latest escalation puts US troops even further in harm’s way, and has put the war even further afield from the “no boots on the ground” affair initially promised by the Obama Administration.


Protests Grow as Turkey Kills 110 Kurds in Six-Day Offensive

by Jason Ditz

Protests erupted in Istanbul and Diyarbakir today as Turkey continued its military offensive against Kurdish towns in the nation’s southeast, with security officials putting the death toll at 110 Kurds killed in the last six days.

The war against the Kurdish PKK has brought a growing amount of Turkish military force against towns in the southeast, with some of the towns under full curfew, cut off from electricity, and with locals reporting less and less food and water available within.

Turkish President Erdogan has vowed to “cleanse” Turkey of PKK rebels in the growing crackdown, and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu vowed today that Turkey would not get “tired” of waging war against the towns.

The war is dividing the country in an ever-growing way, however, with even the opposition HDP calling for open “resistance” to the Erdogan government. The government may remain eager to escalate the crackdown, but they are fueling growing opposition with the way they are carrying it out.

Pentagon Vows More Weapons Drops to Syrian Rebels

by Jason Ditz

Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren today announced that the US intends to carry out more weapons airdrops in the Hasakeh Province of northeastern Syria, claiming the “Democratic Forces” faction has achieved massive gains in the weeks since they dropped their last batch of arms there.

The Democratic Forces have been hyped by the US as a major new force against ISIS, though most analysts agree the group exists “in name only” and simply refers to the Kurdish YPG and a few mostly irrelevant allies. Interestingly, the US claim of success is the first claim that any major territory has changed hands in Hasakeh recently.

Warren said the territorial gains “validate” the program, and that the US intends to send more weapons to “reinforce success,” though again the claim of territorial gains does not appear to be verified by any other sources, and even the Kurds aren’t claiming new victories in the area.

The planned weapons drops come amid talk of the US embedding a handful of ground troops in the “Democratic Forces” in the area, which suggests the intention of throwing more arms at the group is in part an intention to prop up the YPG forces ahead of embedding with them.

Kurdish forces push back against ISIS, reclaim occupied territory

As the international response against ISIS grows and takes affect, Kurdish forces from the semi-autonomous state of Kurdistan fought the terrorist group in northern Iraq on Tuesday.

An area in northern Iraq known as the Rabia district was the center of the fighting as Kurdish Peshmerga forces fought their way into the district before sunrise Tuesday.  Fighting around the district continued throughout the day and resulted in Peshmerga forces claiming the occupied territory.

The Rabia district has been under ISIS control since June after the initial sweep of ISIS forces through the area.  Rabia is in a strategic location as it has served as a route for ISIS fighters to move between Iraq and Syria easily, officials said according to the New York Times.  With Peshmerga forces taking control of this region, this could stifle ISIS troop movement between the countries.

Kurdish and Iraqi forces also fought ISIS on two other fronts within Iraq.

Zumar was the location of more fighting in northern Iraq, and this town is only 40 miles away from the strategic Mosul dam and city of Mosul, the second largest city in Iraq.

Heavy fighting was also reported from the Daquq district, south of Kirkuk.  This area is home to a key transport line between Baghdad and the oil-rich land around Kirkuk.

Other villages in the area were reclaimed throughout the day of fighting too.

Kurdish General Westa Rasul told the International Business Times, “They have liberated the villages of Saad and Khaled. The Peshmerga have taken full control of the area, following fierce fighting.”

General Rasul also said the Peshmerga were continuing their push towards Kirkuk, but first planned on recapturing the town of Al-Wahda, which is about 20 miles from Kirkuk.

Two Peshmerga were reportedly killed while 18 others were injured throughout the day, according to the Raw Story.

Syrian citizens flee ISIS to seek refuge in Turkey

As ISIS continues to grab land and key towns across Syria and Iraq, thousands of Kurdish Syrians are fleeing their country with the hopes of finding safety in the neighboring country, Turkey.

There has already been an influx of Syrian refugees since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began in 2011.  This early conflict caused over one million Syrians to seek shelter in Turkey over the past few years.  However, fears of ISIS have caused the single largest exodus of Syrians to Turkey in recent history at 130,000 Kurdish refugees over the past few days.  Most of these refugees are women and children trying not to get caught in the crossfire.

Fears have risen in Syria as ISIS has tightened its grip on the town of Kobane, or Ayn al-Arab, according to BBC.  Kobane is a border town in the northern region of Syria near Turkey, and has been a contributing member of the movement to establish a Kurdish nation in the region.

Kurdish political leaders in Turkey are calling on their brethren in the southeast of the country along the border to help defend their country from the progress of ISIS forces, according to Reuters.  These same political leaders also spoke out against ISIS, likening the actions of ISIS to “genocide.”

“They are going into the villages and cutting off the heads of one or two people and showing them to the villagers,” said Ibrahim Binici, a member of the pro-Kurdish HDP party in Syria.  “It is truly a shameful situation for humanity.”

The minister of Turkey, Numan Kurtulmus, also commented on the influx of refugees, saying according to the Huffington Post, “This is not a natural disaster… what we are faced with is a man-made disaster… a refugee wave that can be expressed by hundreds of thousands.”