Islamic State militants driven from a Christian town by Kurdish Peshmerga fighters left rubble in their wake, having wired the town with explosives which they detonated as they fled.
Residents of the town of Talesskef, roughly 20 miles from Mosul and once home to 6,000 people, have been sifting through demolished buildings and trying to salvage what they can after the Peshmerga liberated it on Aug. 16, the military blog War Is Boring reports.
“I always tell my friend that ISIS has more TNT than we have flour,” Gen. Abdulrahman Gawrini, the regional Peshmerga commander, told the website.
Gawrini said a special unit disrupted eight clusters of TNT in the area, but warned that there are likely more undetonated explosives in the area. Islamic State militants are highly skilled in manufacturing explosives, he said, adding that the jihadists helped themselves to explosives left behind when Iraqi Army soldiers abandoned their posts in early June.
The militants planted explosives inside most of the town’s homes, but didn’t have enough time to detonate all of them before Peshmerga soldiers forced them to flee.
Horrific odors are emanating from inside some of the destroyed buildings, and some residents are afraid to check inside in fear of finding additional victims. Most local residents who fled the town, meanwhile, have reportedly been too afraid to return for their belongings, as Islamic State forces are believed to be located mere miles away from Talesskef.
Peshmerga forces, however, remain vigilant and ready to resume the fight against the militant group.
“Yes they are because they have heavy weapons,” a Yazidi Peshmerga fighter said when asked if the militants are a formidable opponent. “But we are much stronger because of our belief.”
Another soldier added: “They are cowards. When we entered Telesskef, they were so afraid of us that four of their cars crashed into each other.”
Gawrini blames former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki and Syrian President Bashar Assad for the swift rise of Islamic State.
“We ask the international community to assist us with weapons,” he told War Is Boring. “The Peshmerga have become a symbol of defending humanity.”