Bombs drop as cheers erupt

RABIA – Cheers erupted as the bomb dropped.

Whistling rang out here on the Syrian border from the earthen mounds built up by Kurdish peshmerga bulldozers as everyone stared at the billowing smoke, waiting for it to clear so they could assess the damage.

The British Royal Air Force (RAF) had bombed the Islamic State’s last position in the Syria-Iraq border town of Rabia: an unfinished hospital where 30 militants are holed up, Alamo-style. Surrounded by 1500 Kurdish troops, these are the remnants of an alleged 400-man force Islamic State, also known as ISIL or ISIS, had sent to Rabia.

According to Kurdish fighters, 50 Islamic State members had been killed during the past day of fighting while the rest fled across the border to Syria or moved east towards their stronghold of Mosul.

Over the past 24 hours, air strikes from the US-led coalition have given cover to the Kurds as they began a push to retake a swath of land, including Rabia, snaking across the ever-important Northern Iraq-Syria border.

On the ground, however, the air strike quickly became a source of confusion.

Not long after the dust had quite literally settled on the RAF bombing witnessed by USA Today on Wednesday, Colonel Abdel Jaber Jamal, a deputy commander for one of the two infantry divisions deployed to Rabia, and Captain Dilshad Dawud, a scout for air strike locations, disagreed over the provenance of the strike.

“It was the Americans,” insisted Col. Jamal, based on a hunch. It was the British,” countered Capt. Dawud, going off a rumor.”

Neither had spoken directly to anyone from the coalition forces, and neither was quite sure whether what they said was true. Nor could anyone else offer much certainty.

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