10/18/2014 05:00 EDT | Updated 12/17/2014 05:59 EST

Machine guns and a rooftop watch: Front-line Kurdish forces in tough fight against ISIS

CBC NEWS IS THERE: Correspondents Margaret Evans and Derek Stoffel are in Iraq's semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan, bringing you stories from the front lines of the fight against ISIS militants as Canada prepares to join the international coalition military campaign.

Kurdish Peshmerga forces have built up large berms of earth across farmers' fields outside Mosul, the northern Iraqi city that fell to ISIS militants in early June. 

On the road north from Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city, Peshmerga soldiers are dug in at machine gun positions.

Troops keep constant watch for ISIS movements from the roof of a nearby house. 

The fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), has been long and difficult for the Peshmerga, the 150,000-strong military in the semiautonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq.

It's also been difficult to establish credible casualty numbers since the Peshmerga began to fight ISIS early this year.

But Maj. Gen. Abdulrachman Kawrini, who commands 6,000 soldiers north of Mosul, said he has lost 25 men on the battlefield this year.