Sign In / Up

Add contribution as a guest

Your email will not be displayed publicly
Benefit of signing in/signing up to personalize comment

Comment as a guest

Your email will not be displayed publicly
Benefit of signing in/signing up to personalize comment


Not a member Register   Forgot Password
or connect using





Kurdish Strategy Emerges to Advance on ISIS-held Shingal

By Alexander Whitcomb 1/10/2014
Peshmerga forces,encouraged by recent victories, look to Shingal and Mosul down the road.
Peshmerga forces,encouraged by recent victories, look to Shingal and Mosul down the road.

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region -
After a key battlefront victory this week by the Kurdish Peshmerga, a strategy is emerging to retake the ISIS-occupied Shingal region bordering Syria.

Commenting on Tuesday’s capture from ISIS of the strategic Iraqi border town of Rabia, a senior government source acknowledged this marked the first stage of an offensive to take back both Shingal and eventually Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city that fell to ISIS on June 10th.

ISIS seized Rabia and the Shingal region after it launched an onslaught on Kurdish-held territory in late July.

In internal discussions, the Kurdish leadership have been pondering how far to go on the offensive in ground operations against the jihadists, with some proposing that the Peshmerga should take the initiative in a “boots on the ground” operation to take full advantage of U.S. and other allied air strikes.

By capturing Rabia, a small but strategically important village on the Iraqi side of the border with Syria, Peshmerga have blocked ISIS’ main access road from the frontier to Mosul, disrupting the flow of personnel and goods between ISIS-controlled territory in Syria and Iraq.

Tuesday’s three-pronged push against ISIS positions also included attacks on Zumar, a town on intersecting highways to Mosul and Shingal, and a string of villages south of Kirkuk.
Peshmerga commander Sheikh Ahmad Mohammad told Rudaw this week: “Rabia will help us to retake Zumar and Sinjar.” Sinjar – or Shingal – is the town from which thousands of minority Yezidis fled to nearby mountains in the face of an IS assault in early August.

“It’s a huge success, it’s just what the Peshmerga needed,” says Sam Morris, an analyst at Erbil-based think tank Middle East Research Institute.

The offensive was immensely significant, he says, because the Peshmerga enlisted two key partners: the Shammar tribe, one of the most powerful Sunni groups in northwest Iraq, who have announced cooperation with the Kurdistan Regional Government after months of negotiation, and the People’s Protection Units (YPG), who launched attacks from the autonomous area they hold on the Syrian side.
Working closely with Arab Sunni tribes such as the Shammar is vital to the long-term prospects of an international effort against ISIS, as a coalition of countries fighting the group struggles to find partners to work with on the ground in both Syria and Iraq.
Despite historic disputes between the KRG’s ruling party and the YPG, the cooperation suggests the two sides are coordinating attacks to fight their common foe.
Retaking Shingal is vital for the KRG plan, not only because it would block another transit route—this one stretching west of Mosul into Syria—but because it would reverse what was widely seen as an embarrassing defeat for the KRG.
“It dented the image of the Peshmerga, and made clear that they would need international assistance in the fight,” Morris says, referring to an ISIS advance eastwards towards Erbil, the capital and largest city of the Kurdistan Region. Only U.S. air strikes halted the ISIS offensive in mid-August.
Before the air strikes, ISIS came within 25km of Erbil, prompting many residents to panic and flee. KRG President Masoud Barzani fired five commanders operating in the Shingal region amid allegations of corruption and incompetence. Many Yezidis blame the Peshmerga for fleeing their positions without notifying locals, leaving them to face a brutal ISIS onslaught that led to massacres, enslavement, and humiliation.
 “The [Kurdish] counter-offensive in Northern Iraq has been a very horrifically slow process,” Morris says, explaining that “we shouldn’t expect major progress toward the town any time soon, for those villages simply to drop.”

The two routes toward Shingal are fraught with danger. The KRG has confirmed that the Peshmerga has already endured heavy casualties in the current operations, in large part due to the ISIS strategy of littering abandoned towns and roads with improvised explosive devices (IEDs), rigging cars, trash cans, and roadsides with bombs.

Whether the Peshmerga now proceed north from Rabia, staying close to the Syrian border, or take the shorter southern through Zumar and the heavily fortified Tal Afar, the march towards Shingal is likely to take considerable time.
Once it is taken, however, the Peshmerga will have a strangehold on ISIS in Iraq, cutting off their transit routes to their bases in Syria. At this point, the senior KRG source says, Peshmerga forces can move into Mosul, supported by Iraqi Security Forces from the south.


Data pager
Page size:
.... | 1/10/2014
Glad you are mentioning YPG, but dont forget PKK, who is alredy in battle with isis in shingal. Stop this hostility
David | 1/10/2014
Why are you guys still muslims and a province of Iraq? I don't understand. With an arab culture and islam as their main religion, the kurds will never be anything else than a defenseless tribal iron age society wayting for the next daesh or al-qaeda to massacre you. Do you really want to have your survival as people upon the goodwill of NATO?
Dawan | 1/10/2014
Kurds are fighting.. It doesn't matter what party they belong too.... There are a lot peshmerga and gerilla, who do not want to fight for a party, but for Kurdistan! They have to be with a party if they want to fight, but in their head they have nothing with any party... With PDK, PUK, YPG are also fighters who dont support that party, but they want to protect Kurdistan so they have to join a party...
FAUthman | 1/10/2014
Rabia is very significant. No doubt eyes are on the Kurds, they being the main boots on the ground fighting IS, at one end in collaboration with the FSA of Syria, and at the other end with the help of the Shamar of Sunni Iraq and the Iraqi army. But there will be no success without the indispensable help from the U.S., providing intelligence gathering, planning, air and moral support. It is also important that the U.S. recognize and give credit to the contributions made by all Kurdish fighting men and women of the KDP, YPG, and PKK.
kurdo | 1/10/2014
we are all kurds that need to unite, to defeat our enemy
Tags :

Be Part of Your Rudaw!

Share your stories, photos and videos with Rudaw, and quite possibly the world.

What You Say

Hama | 4/18/2019 3:36:48 PM
Let's not talk about this. Let's talk about Fortnite corrupting our youth instead. This is the mentality of brain-dead parliamentarians in Iraq...
In Iraq, tribal traditions rob women, girls of rights
| 17 hours ago | (1)
Hama | 4/18/2019 1:00:22 PM
Shia savages torturing sunnis into false confessions. Nothing new and this is just the tip of the iceberg. This is why Kurdish groups and authorities...
pre-Boomer Marine brat | 4/18/2019 1:02:53 PM
Where was HRW when ISIS was burning people to death?
Mosul prison using torture to extract ISIS affiliation confessions: HRW
| 11 hours ago | (2)
Kurd | 4/18/2019 5:28:55 AM
Another episode of enemies of Kurdis unting against them, but Kurds seem to never united in the face of the multitude of enemies.
TakeACue | 4/18/2019 12:49:07 PM
What is so wrong about neighboring countries visiting and collaborating? It is stupid to assume that just cause some other power wants them to be at...
Iran FM wraps up ‘successful’ trip to Syria, Turkey
| yesterday at 09:57 | (3)
kop | 4/17/2019 10:12:31 PM
as an Iranian Kurd, I should tell more Iraqis distance themselves from iran, the better. Iran is a poor bully. and only interested in Iraqi USD...
Jay | 4/18/2019 10:55:39 AM
What is it with Abdul, just visiting rogue states and dictators, what happened to other Iraqi friends!
‘Brotherly countries’ Iraq, Saudi Arabia ink 13 deals
| yesterday at 11:05 | (4)

Elsewhere on Rudaw

Istanbul’s new mayor vows to ‘eradicate partisanship’ 5 hours ago |

Istanbul’s new mayor vows to ‘eradicate partisanship’

I want to be the most democratic, innovative more
Mosul prison using torture to extract ISIS affiliation confessions: HRW 11 hours ago | (2)

Mosul prison using torture to extract ISIS affiliation confessions: HRW

“What will it take for the authorities to take more
Iraqi war games: Army trains in desert, defeats ‘militants’ 14 hours ago |

Iraqi war games: Army trains in desert, defeats ‘militants’

"Our job is to keep the Iraqi security forces more
0.25 seconds