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  • 18 June 2014, 9:36

Kurds Lead Fightback Against ISIS Militants

The Kurdish fighters have had enough of ISIS on their land and are determined to drive them out.

From the cover of mud trenches the peshmergafire at ISIS positions 100 metres or so away. This is the ISIS perimeter defence of Jalula town.

It is old-style fighting. Man replacing man on the barricade as they run out of ammunition. There is a constant barrage from both sides.

Taking cover, commanders bark orders; repositioning their men as ISIS try to outmanoeuvre and outflank them.

The first proper offensive on ISIS in Iraq is under way.

Rockets, artillery and heavy machine guns pound ISIS positions from strategic ridgelines.

The Kurds are softening them up, but these are hardcore ISIS fighters and include Chechens, Saudis and Qataris, according to the Kurds.

As rockets blast out and the air zings with incoming fire the head of the region's anti-terror brigade tells me that the peshmerga have no choice but to attack.

Lahoor Talibani said: "We gave the tribe who allowed them in a chance to push them out, but they did not take it.

"ISIS are well organised and we cannot allow them here."

A short distance from the front line the brigade commander stalked into the midst of hundreds of his peshmerga soldiers saying he had been lied to and that the offensive inside the heart of Jalula must begin.

Dozens of vehicles gunned their engines and soldiers mounted their trucks and lorries to drive into town along roads under fire from ISIS snipers on both sides.

This is the next phase of the fight. Urban warfare is the most dangerous but in a thousand-year-old town like Jalula with narrow streets and ancient passage ways, it is a nightmare.

There is fighting everywhere; sometimes just metres away. The whole town echoes as rocket propelled grenades, small arms, heavy machine guns and mortars smash into buildings.

In towns you can rarely see who is where. It is very frightening.

The Kurds cheer as a truck passes loaded with the dead bodies of ISIS fighters.

Down an alleyway a man holds his hands up as he walks towards the Kurds. But he has come from enemy positions.

He is led away at gunpoint as another soldier fires warning shots to deter ISIS sniper fire.

Now every crossroad, every uncovered passageway is dangerous. You run between the barricaded areas.

Families trying to escape on foot hold hands as they cross the constantly changing battle lines.

As the battle intensifies the Kurds up the ante and deploy tanks around the ISIS positions firing deafening volleys to the cheers of the peshmerga.

They are determined to win here and clear other towns taken by ISIS.

There is a lot more fighting to come.

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