Thomas Wictor

How Kurds defeat the Islamic State

How Kurds defeat the Islamic State

One of the most strategically important villages in northern Iraq is Sultan Abdullah, located about 50 miles (80 kilometers) southwest of the Iraqi Kurdish capital of Irbil. A remarkable video shows how the outgunned Kurds and their Sunni Arab allies took back the village from the Islamic State.

First, some photos that the Islamic State published, showing their fighters in Sultan Abdullah.

The Islamic State had armored Humvees that they collected after the Iraqi army fled. Note that these are not barefoot nomads, as some commenters would have you believe.


As in Gaza, they had unguided rockets.


This is a “technical,” used by all sides in the Middle East except for Israel. The heavy machine gunner is breaking his companions’ eardrums; such is the training level of the average Islamic State fighter.


Trench fighting. The man on the left looks anxiously at the sky, as well he should. You’ll see why in a moment.


A machine gunner races froward, carrying an American M-16 rifle in his right hand. He’s clearly one of the foreign fighters that the Islamic State has recruited. His real name is probably Hans.


An armored personnel carrier. In the foreground is a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) squad. The RPG is a shaped charge that can destroy any armored vehicle that the Kurds have.


A raised index finger symbolizes there being one God but Allah, and the finger-raisers’ willingness to kill and die for him.


Light machine-gun squad.


Triumphant Islamic Staters, the one in the right background looking quite western.


Here’s the video of Kurds and Sunni Arab militiamen taking Sultan Abdullah. It begins with Kurds ambushing a foot patrol of Islamic State terrorists. The skill required to carry out such an ambush is truly amazing, given the noise that Humvees and mine-resistant ambush protected (MRAP) vehicles make. Heavy machine guns make short work of the terrorists.

A different clip shows why the Kurdish ambush was successful.

The terrorists were eating lunch from Styrofoam takeout containers.


This terrorist watched too many movies. He bought all the “special-forces operator” gear, but it didn’t help him.


Middle-aged men who don’t even wear body armor settled his hash, because THEY’RE WARRIORS, not murderous poseurs.

Back to the longer video.

When the terrorists patrolling outside the village are all dead, the Kurds attack with machine guns, light cannons, rocket-propelled grenades, and a present from the west, which we’ll discuss soon.

The explosions are air strikes; the Kurds have been given targeting equipment that allows them to tell the pilots of Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve exactly where to drop the bombs.


In the middle of all that hell, some brave Kurdish souls move forward with a MILAN antitank guided missile (ATGM), a weapon they didn’t have just a few months ago.


The MILAN squad fires at an improvised armored vehicle of the type that ISIS fills with explosives and uses to attack military bases. Here’s such a vehicle.

The MILAN missile in flight is marked by the red arrow, and the armored vehicle by the green.


A direct hit.


After more airstrikes and a torrent of fire from the Kurds, a suicide bomber (red arrow) tries to enter the armored vehicle from the rear.


He detonates prematurely.


Another armored vehicle leaves the village and heads for the Kurdish lines. It’s a suicide truck bomb.


The video uploader spliced in footage of what I think is Peshmerga firing a MILAN at the same suicide truck bomb.


You can tell that the truck was full of explosives because of the white shock wave (arrow).


The MILAN itself wouldn’t cause such a massive explosion.

Although the Islamic State has better weaponry and equipment on the ground, the Kurds and Sunni Arab militia are highly experienced fighters being advised by the best special operators in the world. The reason the Kurds don’t lose armored vehicles is because they expend a huge amount of accurate small-arms, heavy machine-gun, and light-cannon fire on the enemy, killing him before he can fire his RPGs or ATGMs. The Islamic State is unable to learn from its mistakes.

Kurds keep repelling Islamic State offensives, which fail even when the terrorists try something different.

A commander on the frontline near Makhmur told the BBC that at one point the IS militants got so close to his troops that they could target them with hand grenades.

He said the militants had changed their tactics, and that instead of using vehicles they had walked towards the Peshmerga positions using camouflage that concealed their infra-red heat signatures.

Peshmerga commander Sirwan Barzani, a nephew of Kurdistan President Massoud Barzani, told the AFP news agency that 34 militants had been killed and no territory lost in the battle.

The jihadists are reportedly making regular attempts to break through the Kurdish lines in the area.

Although this Iranian news report is amateurish and riddled with inaccuracies, it shows how the Kurds and Sunni Arabs are cooperating.

The horror of the Islamic State has spurred two positive developments.

1. The region is uniting against a common enemy.

2. Muslims are beginning to talk of the need for a Reformation.

We’re seeing some massive changes happening without much fanfare. There’s reason for optimism.


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