Thwarting the Islamic State

Greetings,

Today we’d like to share an update about the support Spirit of America has provided to those on the frontlines in the struggle against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, in northern Iraq. For months, we have been helping make the Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga – one of the United States’ best partners in this conflict – safer and more effective as they liberate their country and take the fight to the extremist group. We first told you about this effort here.

Kurdish peshmerga have been critical in stopping the advance of the Islamic State
Kurdish peshmerga have been critical in stopping the advance of the Islamic State

Since they stormed Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, in the summer of 2014, the Islamic State has emerged as one of the most brutal extremist organizations the world has seen. The group has taken over large swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria, subjecting the people under their harsh rule to unspeakable acts of cruelty, which they meticulously document on social media as a means of recruitment and intimidation. Rape, enslavement, torture, and horrific executions, not to mention the destruction of priceless antiquities, are all part of the terrorist organization’s Modus operandi. Not content to limit their brutality to Iraq and Syria, they are expanding in North Africa and beyond. Likewise, they eagerly take credit for terrorist attacks the world over.

The United States has assembled a robust international coalition to fight and defeat the Islamic State. One of the strongest local partners in this struggle has been the peshmerga, or security forces, of the semiautonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq. The peshmerga stopped the Islamic State from taking over all of northern Iraq last year, rising to particular prominence after they lifted the siege on Mount Sinjar and thus prevented the wholesale massacre of the minority Yazidi group. They have been slowly liberating territory from the group ever since.

SoA's Jim Hake talked with peshmerga commanders about their needs
SoA’s Jim Hake talked with peshmerga commanders about their needs

While the peshmerga are highly motivated, they lacked the basic items needed to help them survive on the battlefield. They were short basic medical supplies to stop preventable fatalities, the means to clear mines and roadside bombs in villages they re-secure, and any way to accurately mark their locations on the frontlines so that coalition airstrikes wouldn’t accidentally strike them.

Peshmerga practice using SoA-provided metal detectors after receiving training from their US advisors
Peshmerga practice using SoA-provided metal detectors after receiving training from their US advisors

Just as we addressed the humanitarian needs of some of the most vulnerable victims of the Islamic State, Spirit of America was able to react to this critical need. We have provided metal detectors, tourniquets and other medical supplies, GPS devices and compasses, marking panels, and more, all in order to help the peshmerga be safer and more effective as they battle this terrible scourge. A huge thank you to Garrett Electronics for their generous donation of metal detectors. You can support this effort here.

We have already received feedback that this support has made the peshmerga more effective, helping them clear areas of mines and IEDs and minimizing casualties in their ranks. Though the struggle to rid the globe of the Islamic State will be long and difficult, it is only through helping dedicated local partners like the peshmerga that enduring success will be achieved.

As always, thank you for partnering with us in these efforts!

All the best,
The Spirit of America Team

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