Kurdish fighters are using 'Mad Max' inspired homemade tanks to take on Isis

Bethan McKernan@mck_beth
Wednesday 25 November 2015 16:40
news

The Kurdish troops currently fighting in Syria are the only military forces that have had any success in repelling jihadist forces that have taken root in the country's bloody civil war.

DHA tank in Rojava, Syrian Kurdistan

The Kurdish YJA Star Army, PYD and YPG militia have defeated regime forces to establish their autonomy, and have beaten back Isis, Jabhat al-Nusra and al-Qaeda numerous times, driving the former out of the besieged towns of Kobani (Ayn al-Arab) and Tal Abyad.

The Kurdish militia are the Syrian affiliates of the PKK, the Kurdish movement that has been fighting the state in Turkey on and off since the 1980s.

They and Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga fighters are supported by US airstrikes and largely self-funded - but necessity is the mother of invention, as the rebels showed The Times this week.

Iraqi Kurdish fighters are on the offensive against Isis forces in Sinjar in the north of the country, where the well-armed jihadi group has laid roadside explosives and the threat of suicide bombings is ever present.

The 35-strong Heza Murdin 'Death Squad' are clearing the way for the rest of the peshmerga, creating Mad Max style road-warriors to help them do so.

Makeshift ambulance in Rojava, Syrian Kurdistan
Repurposed tank in Syrian Kurdistan

The tanks are converted from farm machines and trucks, and The Times reports that the process can take up to six months and cost up to £20,000 despite their makeshift nature.

Anti-tank guns, machine guns and homemade armour are added to the exterior. On the inside, blast impact is cushioned by mattresses fixed to the walls - although commenters have wondered how effectively the tanks keep those inside them safe.

Similar methods have been employed by the YPG in Syria to make the most of scant resources.


Last year it came to light that the Free Syrian Army also employs enterprising methods when it comes to warfare, fashioning a DIY tank from an old pick-up truck and installing a 0.50 calibre machine gun, controlled from the inside by a rewired PlayStation 2 controller.

More: There's a peaceful region in the middle of Isis territory and it's running out of electricity

More: The PKK: what you need to know about the army taking on Isis

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