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Driving through ghost town: RT's risky ride deep into ISIS-Kurdish frontline

Driving through ghost town: RT's risky ride deep into ISIS-Kurdish frontline
Kurdish fighters have driven ISIS from key town of Rabia on the Iraqi border, with 120,000 Kurds currently on the frontier. RT’s Paula Slier made a hazardous journey to the border to find out what’s happening.

Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga fighters took control of Rabia, “the most important strategic point for crossing” the border, in a battle that began before dawn, an Iraqi Kurdish political source told Reuters. Earlier, the IS fighters had the possibility to cross the border without any interference.

On Tuesday, two villages 40km south of Kirkuk have been freed by Peshmerga.

All in all, about half of the territory has been regained by Kurds, according to Peshmerga Secretary-General Jabbar Yawar, which triggered the US-led strikes.

On Wednesday, UK forces carried out their first strikes in Iraq since 2003, joining the US-led mission against IS (formerly ISIS).

The Kurdish forces known as Peshmerga accompanied the RT crew to the border. Asked if they manage to push the IS back, a fighter who drives says, “This is the frontline. Ten days ago we forced ISIS out. The civilians here can’t fight ISIS, so they were evacuated.”

READ MORE: The amazing (and bizarre) homemade Kurdish armor fighting ISIS in Syria

The RT crew then stopped in the village Hassan Sham freed by Kurds about 10 days ago, and is situated just 5km from where the IS is now stationed.

Like driving through a ghost town pic.twitter.com/egXh55ulBM

— PaulaSlier_RT (@PaulaSlier_RT) October 1, 2014

The greatest risk in the village is currently not the IS fighters, but unexploded improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Most of the houses in the area have been cordoned off, and Kurdish forces are concerned they could be booby-trapped.

Kurds are also rebuilding a bridge destroyed by the IS, so that the Kurdish forces can move forward.

There is no one residing the area, except for Peshmerga fighters, Slier said, driving through villages practically wiped off the face of the Earth by the IS.

Spent the day with #Peshmerga fighters who are the only ones preventing the #ISIS expansion at all cost. pic.twitter.com/HCbxEs1F7k

— PaulaSlier_RT (@PaulaSlier_RT) October 1, 2014

RT’s crew moved even closer to IS: 3kms to the town of Bashika held by IS militants. Along the bumpy road, there was what remained of the fighting.

“This war will be over in three or four months, that’s how long we need to take this region,” Ahmed Ali Ibrahim, a captain with the Peshmerga, told RT.

“We don’t need soldiers from Europe and other countries we just need new weaponry. Ours are very old, but now we’re receiving new armaments from Europe and the US. That’s all we need from them,” he added.

The biggest threat in the area is not #ISIS, but #IED and other #explosives they left behind, concealed. pic.twitter.com/YcZq8NuIqo

— PaulaSlier_RT (@PaulaSlier_RT) October 1, 2014