Kurdish peshmerga forces have been battling Islamic State militants outside the city of Sinjar since January.
The peshmerga are holding the heights to the north of the city, while IS controls the city itself. There is no sign of any civilians left in the city.
The warfare is largely static: both sides are stuck in their positions, sniping at each other, while IS occasionally tries to storm some of the Kurdish frontal positions, or lob mortars across their lines into the rear.
Low on heavy weapons themselves, the peshmerga typically call in coalition airstrikes when they spot IS forces moving around. On 25 and 26 May, when this report was filmed, the Kurds called in nearly a dozen airstrikes.
According to a report posted on the website of US Central Command said that on 26 May “near Sinjar, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit, destroying two ISIL buildings and two ISIL heavy machine guns.”
The city of Sinjar is important because sits on a road between Mosul, Iraq, and Raqqa, Syria, the two biggest cities controlled by IS. The militants use the road to move personnel and equipment between the two major theatres of war.
The 12th peshmerga brigade, which has been on the lines since the beginning of May, lost 13 killed and nearly a hundred wounded in their first three weeks of deployment.
- 1. Kurdish soldier (peshmerga) cocks and aims his rifle at a peshmerga outpost outside Sinjar city 2. Kurdish soldier cocks and fires his light machine gun 3-7. Various of peshmerga cocking their gun, aiming and firing 8. Peshmerga peeks through hole in parapet 9. Peshmerga fires his gun and celebrates 10-12. Peshmerga reloads his gun 13. Close of rifle against sandbags 14. SOUNDBITE, peshmerga 15. Peshmerga position 16. Close of spent shellcases on ground 17. Peshmerga looks over parapet at Sinjar city 18. IS-controlled Sinjar city as seen through hole in parapet 19. Peshmerga tent 20-26. Various of peshmerga resting and eating 27-28. Evening view from observation post 29-33. Various of inside another peshmerga fighting position 34. Commotion as fighters are trying to spot two IS mortar launchers that have started firing at their rear: “‘They are going to that side.’ ‘Which direction?’ ‘In the fort?’ ‘How far is it?’ ‘Is it among the trees? On that side?’” 35. IS-controlled Sinjar city seen thru peephole 36. Officer on phone back to brigade HQ (no translation) 37. Commotion cont’d: “‘Just keep watching them, I’m going down and then I’m coming back.’ ‘They are shooting mortars from two locations.’ ‘Should we hit them both?’ ‘0, 15.. 0, 13..’ 38. Commotion cont’d 39. Close of peshmerga’s rifle 40. Peshmerga watches rising cloud in wake of coalition airstrike on IS position 41. Close of rising cloud
Peshmerga soldiers: Soldier on left: For us? When we fight them? For us it is too easy. We are very confident of ourselves and we are not afraid of anything. Soldier on right: We are defending our land, ourselves and our land. Soldier on left: Say, it has been a year and we are not afraid of anything.