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8 Oct, 2014 17:41

'We never sleep': RT stays overnight with Kurdish fighters on front line in Iraq

Kurdish forces, known as the Peshmerga fighters, are struggling to repel Islamic State militants from Syrian borders. Spending the night behind the sandbags, RT's Paula Slier witnessed gunfire and jihadists' vehicles moving less than 2 miles away.

With US-led airstrikes targeting the Islamic State group (formerly known as ISIS) in various parts of Syria, the Kurdish fighters say the coalition attacks help them push the militants back.

On Wednesday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said strikes have been launched at Islamic State extremists east of Kobani, the Syrian town close to the border with Turkey. Warplanes, believed to be from the US-led coalition, bombed militant positions, aiming to save the town from falling into hands of Islamic State, whose fighters broke through the Kurdish defenders front lines earlier in the week.

I must be mad but I'm sleeping outside behind a sand bank alongside #Peshmerga fighters on the border pic.twitter.com/2I8afXivCw

— PaulaSlier_RT (@PaulaSlier_RT) October 7, 2014

While the terrorists were reportedly forced to withdraw from parts of Kobani, the Kurdish forces have been setting up position and preparing their tanks to fire at another Syrian border - with Iraq. RT visited the Peshmerga fighters on the ground there, staying overnight, when Islamic State militants move around under cover of darkness.

#Peshmerga fighters prepare tank to fire as they've picked up #ISIS vehicles moving about 3 kilometres from where we are

— PaulaSlier_RT (@PaulaSlier_RT) October 7, 2014

"We never sleep, we are always vigilant. This is not a domestic or even regional threat, it's a global threat. I'm here fighting to eliminate terrorism for everyone around the world," Peshmerga fighter Hogr Rashid Kamil told RT.

"American and British fighter planes are circling overhead," RT's Paula Slier reported, as the reinforcements are assisted by a number of US-led coalition airstrikes.

#Peshmerga fighter says before airstrikes it was too dangerous 2 come 2 this post. Now whenever he hears planes "it's like music to my ears"

— PaulaSlier_RT (@PaulaSlier_RT) October 7, 2014

"The airstrikes help immensely. We can fight, but with the airstrikes we are guaranteed one hundred percent success. They provide us with cover. We help give intel to the airspace operation control rooms, we have informants and we have spotters who send the information to them," Brigadier-General Qadir Khorani told RT.

The Peshmerga battalion commander added that in the last three months they managed to "heavily defeat" Islamic State militants.

#Isis is on the other side of this sandbag - whenever they try to move the #Peshmerga are aware! pic.twitter.com/KwDH7OtdHd

— PaulaSlier_RT (@PaulaSlier_RT) October 8, 2014

Having joined the Kurdish fighters at their look-out position, RT's Paula Slier described being woken by gunfire in the midst of the battles with Islamic State, with the crew trying to film the attack.

Lot of shouting, more firing, I'm in my sleeping bag - I'm not moving. Cameraman is trying to film from his sleeping bag not far from me

— PaulaSlier_RT (@PaulaSlier_RT) October 7, 2014

"It didn't use to be as calm as it is now, we've been fired at with rockets, mortars and tanks. But we've taken advantage of the airstrikes - when the planes fly overhead, the militants can't move freely," Peshmerga fighter Mahmoud Makhsoet explained to RT. He added that if the operation continues, the Kurdish forces "can finish with this war in the next three months."

Early morning behind sandbags that separate us from #Isispic.twitter.com/KPFdttSPow

— PaulaSlier_RT (@PaulaSlier_RT) October 8, 2014

In recent months, the Peshmerga has been a major force in repelling the Islamic State advance in the region. Just days after Islamic State group pushed forward across northern Iraq, Kurdish military claimed control of the strategic site with the city of Kirkuk and have been continuously fighting the militants.