PKK helps US in battle against Islamic State in Iraq
MAKHMUR - REUTERS
Kurdish fighters stand guard at a location overlooking positions held by Islamic State militants near Mosul in northern Iraq August 19, 2014. REUTERS PhotoThe outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) says it played a decisive role in blunting the Islamic militants' sweep through Iraq, which triggered U.S. air strikes to halt their advance.
"This war will continue until we finish off the Islamic State," said Rojhat, a PKK militant speaking from a hospital bed in Arbil, the capital of the Kurdish region in Iraq.
Rojhat, 33, was wounded for a third time in the battle to retake the northern Iraqi town of Makhmur from the Islamic State after the militants - deemed too extreme even for al Qaeda - routed the region's vaunted Kurdish peshmerga forces.
"This is not just about Makhmur: this is about Kurdistan," said PKK commander Sadiq Goyi, seated beneath a banner of the group's jailed leader Abdullah Öcalan.
"Islamic State is a danger to everyone, so we must fight them everywhere".
An armed sister group of the PKK - People's Defense Units (YPG) - has carved out an autonomous zone in Syria's northeast, successfully fending off attacks by IS militants who have proclaimed a caliphate straddling the frontier with Iraq.
When the militants overran peshmerga positions in northwestern Iraq, YPG fighters crossed over from Syria and evacuated thousands of minority Yazidis left stranded on a mountain with scant food and water.
PKK says members have been dispatched to the front line in the cities of Kirkuk and Jalawla as well. They declined to give numbers and fierce fighting makes their statements hard to verify.