Kurds in Iraq Face Fast and Erratic Threat in ISIS Suicide Drivers

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Kurdish fighters systematic a lorry to stop Friday in Sinjar, Iraq. The Islamic State is regulating self-murder drivers to conflict their positions on a vital highway.

Bryan Denton for The New York Times

SOLAGH, Iraq — “It’s coming!” a Kurdish warrior screamed as a lorry barreled down a road. “The blast is coming!”

What was entrance Thursday afternoon was a Kurds’ misfortune nightmare. After a formidable tour opposite a hilly towering road, a Kurdish fighters, famous as pesh merga, had seized a strategically critical widen of highway outward Sinjar from Islamic State fighters. Now, even before their defensive positions were set easterly of a town, an Islamic State lorry explosve was hurtling their way.

A day later, a stays of a blast — tellurian and automatic — were still sparse opposite a road. The blast was so vast that it separate a truck’s engine retard in dual and remade a rest of a car into drifting shards of steel and glass, that were strewn on and around a highway.

The frightening part was prisoner on a conspicuous cellphone video that Muhamad Karim Tahir, one of a pesh merga fighters, available from inside an armored Humvee during a theatre nearby Solagh, a community down a highway from Sinjar.

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A Suicide Driver Caught on Film

Muhamad Karim Tahir, a Kurdish fighter, available a theatre as an Islamic State lorry explosve hurtled down a highway toward his Humvee. A Kurdish barb strike a truck, causing it to explode.

Publish Date November 14, 2015.

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The video, that was given to a contributor from The New York Times, shows how a Islamic State, also famous as ISIS or ISIL, has discriminating a techniques for regulating a possess form of precision-guided munitions. Short of technology, a jihadists have drawn on one apparatus they apparently have in abounding supply: peaceful drivers whose goal is to tarry usually as prolonged as it takes to get their explosve to a target.

It also shows a techniques that a pesh merga have grown to cope with a threat, a risk that can emerge so fast that a Kurds can't count on American airstrikes to strengthen them.

The Sinjar offensive, corroborated by a American-led coalition, began on Thursday, as Kurdish and Yazidi fighters, members of a internal eremite minority, battled to retrieve Sinjar from a Islamic State, that had brutally tranquil a city for 15 months. But good before then, a pesh merga had suspicion prolonged and tough about how to cope with a group’s self-murder drivers. The initial step was to move in a bulldozer with armored plates bolted to a driver’s cab to make a vast gritty wall opposite a highway they were dynamic to hold.

Ideally, American A-10 conflict planes would brush in to destroy a self-murder vehicles before they reached a Kurds. In practice, a Kurds mostly need to rest on a anti-tank weapons and complicated appurtenance guns supposing by a coalition.

Of all a anti-tank missiles a Kurds possess, a German-supplied Milan is a many cherished since of a range. (Some of a Islamic State car bombs are so vast that Kurds who use a shorter-range AT-4’s a United States has granted could find themselves within a radius of a explosion, Western officials say.)

But a Islamic State has grown a possess tactics, too. The Kurds’ bulldozer had erected usually half of a mud wall opposite a highway when a militants attacked.

Part of a lorry bomb’s engine following an conflict in Sinjar.

Bryan Denton for The New York Times

As a lorry zoomed down a road, a pesh merga unleashed a fusillade of appurtenance gun glow from a armored Humvees and fighting positions that had been set adult beside a highway, to equivocate a full force of a lorry explosion.

But conjunction a Islamic State motorist nor his lorry were stopped by a appurtenance gun fire: a complicated square of armor had been bolted opposite a front of a vehicle. The Milan missiles were a usually chance this organisation had.

“Shoot it! Shoot it!” a pesh merga warrior yelled on a cellphone video.

“Let it come closer,” a commander pronounced over a tactical radio. The Kurds have a singular supply of Milan missiles and did not wish to miss.

With a lorry racing down a road, a Kurdish warrior dismissed a Milan, that streaked down a highway and exploded — behind a approaching truck. There was small time left for a second shot, and a fighters had usually one other Milan missile.

“Hamodi, get out!” a warrior implored a comrade. “Hamodi, precipitate up!”

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How Kurds Captured Sinjar From ISIS

A visible beam to a arise of a Islamic State.

OPEN Graphic

The lorry was probably on a Kurds when a second Milan found a mark, branch a explosives-laden lorry into a vast fireball that could be seen from miles away. In that moment, a Kurds did not seem to know if they would tarry to quarrel another day or join a ranks of a some-more than 1,000 pesh merga who have perished in a quarrel with ISIS.

The cellphone documenting a quarrel bounced around a Humvee, rocked by a blast. But a cries of a fighters inside were recorded.

“God is great! God is great! ” a warrior yelled over and over, fear emanating from his prayers. “There is no God though God and Muhammad is his prophet!”

As a waste settled, a commander was listened over a tactical radio: “Is everybody O.K.?”

“We are all O.K.,” another warrior responded in a radio transmission.

Somehow, all of a fighters had survived. One had a damaged hand, though there were no vital injuries. The subsequent day, a pesh merga set adult a proxy authority post during a site of a attack, where they designed a subsequent theatre of a quarrel and grabbed a discerning punch among a disfigured steel waste and pieces of tellurian remains.

By this time, a wall had been completed. Now a armored bulldozer was called in again, this time to cut a trail for a pesh merga. In a lessen and upsurge of a battle, it was their spin to seize a beginning and pull west down a highway to retake Sinjar.