Two Peshmerga soldiers man an artillery gun in Shengal.
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – A shipment of advanced weapons arrived at Erbil airport on Sunday, as Kurdish forces that have been a bulwark against the Islamic State (IS/ISIS) army in Iraq said they await orders to go on the offensive.
The Peshmerga minister was in a meeting with top commanders, sources told Rudaw, as a reporter saw the weapons arriving at the airport on Sunday morning.
“The Peshmerga are waiting for orders from President (Massoud) Barzani to change our position from defensive to offensive,” said Halgurd Hikmat, a Peshmerga ministry spokesman.
“The Peshmerga have heavy weaponry and they can face the ISIS,” said Hikmat, who did not reveal any details about the arms shipment.
With the Iraqi army in tatters, the Kurdistan Region’s Peshmerga forces have been a bulwark against an advance by the IS army, which has declared a Caliphate in parts of Syria and Iraq, with Mosul as its capital.
Kurdish leaders had appealed for advanced heavy weapons from Western countries, among them the United States, to step up their fight against the Islamic State, with which they share more than a 1,000-kilometer border.
The new weapons came as heavy fighting was reported since early Sunday between Peshmerga forces and IS militants in Shengal, a majority Kurdish-Yezidi town northwest of Mosul.
A Rudaw correspondent in Shengal said that hundreds of local residents have gathered to volunteer to fight alongside the Peshmerga.
The Peshmerga and IS have shared a quiet front since June but both sides have been engaged in intense clashes for the past three days around the town of Zumar near the Syrian border and surrounding villages.
Heavy fighting was reported in Zumar on Sunday, a day after Peshmerga forces equipped with advanced weapons were rushed to the area.