As Kurds regain ground in Iraq, new challenges emerge

By REUTERS
October 3, 2014 09:02
1 minute read.

The changing fortunes of war in northern Iraq are recorded in layers of graffiti daubed on the walls of villages overrun by Islamic State militants this summer, but since re-appropriated by Kurdish peshmerga forces.

"Bravo peshmerga," read the freshest markings, painted over older inscriptions - some of them already scribbled out - that proclaim "property of the Islamic State".

Village by village, Kurdish forces have regained around half the territory they gave up in August when IS militants tore through their defenses in the northwest, prompting September's airstrikes by the United States - their first since 2011.

The Kurds scored a particularly important victory recently, driving Islamic State fighters from the strategic Rabia border crossing and severing their main artery from Mosul to Syria, which had been used to re-supply fighters on both sides.

Though their brethren in Syria have lost control of hundreds of villages to IS fighters, prompting thousands of refugees to flee to Turkey, the Kurds in Iraq now feel as though the tide has turned in their favour.

But to secure the rest of what they have lost they will now have to overcome numerous challenges ranging from a lack of heavy weaponry and US air support in eastern areas close to Iran's border, to hostile residents rejecting their claim in other areas.


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