Outgunned Kurds Beg US for Weapons to Battle ISIS
Friday, August 8, 2014 07:48 AM
By: Drew MacKenzie
Thousands of people from Kurdistan’s boomtown Irbil are fleeing into the mountains as marauding Islamic militants set their sights on the state capital after storming into nearby towns.
The Kurdish forces, known as Peshmerga meaning "those who confront death," had bravely fought the forces of evil dictator Saddam Hussein to keep Kurdistan a semi-autonomous state within Iraq, according to The Washington Post.
But with outdated Russian weapons, they are no match for the brutal Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, also known as ISIS or the Islamic State. And now they are pleading with the United States to supply them with arms, or even troops.
"Let Washington know how serious the situation is and how big of a need we have for military support," Masrour Barzani, the Kurds’ intelligence and security chief, told the Post. "We are left out to fight all these terrorists, all these problems on our own."
The Peshmerga has a fighting force of 190,000 well-trained, well-respected veteran soldiers, and the Iraqi Kurds had believed, until now, that they were virtually invincible.
But they are ill-equipped to handle the onslaught of the Islamic State, which recently seized predominantly Christian towns just 30 miles away in northern Iraq, including the city of Sinjar, which had been under the protection of the Peshmerga.
As horrifying pictures emerged in social media of executed militia members along with photos of the Islamic State’s chilling black flag, the frightened residents of Irbil headed for the hills.
"People are panicking," Kurdish journalist Namo Abdulla told the Post. "They are panicking in Irbil. People are fleeing and going into the mountains. They are terrified. The militants love death more than they life. They don’t care about anything, they just want to kill."
With the power of the Peshmerga disintegrating before their eyes, the Iraqi Kurds in Irbil were afraid that their town would not survive an attack from the violent ISIS extremists.
They are cheering the United States after President Barack Obama announced that he planned to authorize "targeted" airstrikes against ISIS to prevent the genocide of ethnic minorities in Iraq, including tens of thousands of fleeing Christians, as well as to protect U.S personnel in Irbil and Baghdad.
The strikes could also aid thousands of Yazidis, an ethnic group trapped on a barren spit of earth called Mount Sinjar.
"There is an old staying in Kurdistan," Abdulla said. "The Kurds have no friends except for the mountains. They are right now running for the mountains. But tonight, Obama showed that he is another friend."
With Obama saying he has no plans to boots on the ground, the Kurds are afraid that U.S. airstrikes will not be enough to save them from ISIS, an al-Qaida offshoot.
The Islamic State has seized vast military and financial resources while overrunning huge swaths of northern Iraq and eastern Syria in its bid to create an Islamic State or caliphate.
The Kurds, who are using antique military equipment, need more modern weapons to defend its 650-mile border against what is seen as the most powerful extremist force in recent memory, according to the Post.
"The Peshmerga are running out of ammunition," Abdulla told The Post. "The [Islamic State militants] have seized American weaponry from the Iraqi government and now they’re outgunning the Kurdish forces. Despite the strength of the Peshmerga before, the Peshmerga just can’t fight them now."