Political and ethnic rivalries in Iraq are threatening the ongoing campaign to eject the Islamic State from the northern and western portions of the war-torn country.
A large battle for the majority-Christian village of Tel Asqaf north of Mosul began at dawn on May 3, as more that 100 ISIS fighters launched a surprise attack that pushed Peshmerga and militia fighters out of the town and claimed the life of Navy SEAL Charles Keating IV, according to Kurdish media sources.
The terrorist fighters attacked from three or more directions using more than 10 car bombs and one bulldozer to break through defensive barriers around the village, according to Nineveh News. Rudaw, a Kurdish media site, claimed more than 400 ISIS fighters participated in the attack, including 50 wearing suicide vests.
For the first time since its formation in 2014, the Assyrian Christian fighters known as the Nineveh Plains Defense Force sent approximately 100 fighters into a major battle with ISIS and fought alongside hundreds of Peshmerga to drive ISIS out of the village, according to Jeff Gardner, chief of operations for the Restore Nineveh Now Foundation.
The defense force arrived in Tel Asqaf at 10:00 am., trading fire with ISIS for hours until its fighters ran low on ammunition. U.S. Army Apache helicopters began to attack the ISIS forces late in the morning and continued to hit the jihadists through May 4, causing most of ISIS’s casualties during the battle, Gardner told the Washington Free Beacon.
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