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Peshmerga look to restore image after defeats

Peshmerga forces are slowly but steadily regaining lost territory to the Islamic State, after initial defeats this summer sent shock waves through Iraqi Kurdistan.
A Kurdish Peshmerga fighter takes up position near his camp in Gwar, northern Iraq September 23, 2014. REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah (IRAQ - Tags: CIVIL UNREST CONFLICT) - RTR47EK9
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ZUMAR, Iraq — Standing on a hilltop, Gen. Halgurd Khidir is inspecting through binoculars the situation just a couple of miles farther down in the sea of concrete houses that is Zumar. He appears relaxed, but is keenly aware of the difficult mission his troops are entrusted with: retaking vast territories lost to Islamic State (IS) fighters in early August.

“Over the past month we have advanced a lot and have cleaned this area from IS,” said Khidir, standing amid a couple of dozen peshmerga fighters. He says his troops are ready to retake the town whenever the order arrives. The Kurdish peshmerga forces have in fact captured around a dozen villages and strategic oil fields on the road between Sihela and Zumar. Signs of IS militants’ defeat can be seen: A few damaged vehicles, including a Humvee bombed by US aircraft, are scattered by the side of the road.

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