Kurdish Peshmerga forces have cleared as many as 3,000 bombs in the areas they liberated from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a military official told Asharq Al-Awsat.
“[The Peshmerga] have disabled more than 3,000 bombs on frontlines, cities and houses in the areas it recaptured from [ISIS],” commander of the Peshmerga military engineering unit Maj. Gen. Mohamed Hussein told Asharq Al-Awsat.
The Islamist group has taken to booby-trapping streets and buildings in areas they control as a defensive strategy in case they are forced to withdraw. The tactic has proven successful in stemming the advance of the Peshmerga forces who lack the necessary equipment to deal with planted bombs.
“Our forces rely on their own resources in order to fulfill their duties,” the official said, highlighting the lack of equipment for detecting and defusing bombs.
“Seventy percent of the casualties of the war on ISIL have been caused by exploding bombs ISIL have planted,” military expert and retired Kurdish officer Salah Al-Fili told Asharq Al-Awsat.
“Peshmerga forces do not have modern equipment to detect and dismantle mines and the ones that we received from Europe are few and unsophisticated,” he said.
Because of the lack of equipment, Peshmerga fighters often find themselves forced to bypass certain areas in order to avoid the bombs.
“Explosive devices pose a risk to the Peshmerga forces and civilians in all liberated areas and represent the greatest challenge in the war,” director of Iraqi Kurdistan Mine Action Agency (IKMAA) Siraj Barzani told Asharq Al-Awsat.
“Training our forces on dismantling and defusing explosive devices are among the significant pillars of the Kurdistan Regional Government’s strategy in fighting terror,” the official added.
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