Barzani An­nounces Sin­jar’s Lib­er­a­tion

The Kurdish Globe - - FRONT PAGE -

Kur­dis­tan Re­gional Gov­ern­ment Mas­soud Barzani an­nounced the lib­er­a­tion of the town of Sin­jar from the Is­lamic State group, the lat­est in a se­ries of set­backs for the ji­hadists. The of­fen­sive cut a key sup­ply line link­ing ji­hadist-held ar­eas in Iraq with those in Syria. “We de­liv­ered on our pledge to lib­er­ate Sin­jar,” Barzani de­clared. “I thank you Amer­ica and the Kur­dish peo­ple,“the pres­i­dent said.

The US-led coali­tion car­ried out up­wards of 250 strikes in sup­port of the Sin­jar op­er­a­tion, killing an es­ti­mated more than 200 IS fight­ers, Colonel Steve War­ren, spokesman for the in­ter­na­tional op­er­a­tion against the ji­hadists, told a news con­fer­ence Fri­day.

"Sin­jar is very im­por­tant be­cause it has be­come a sym­bol of the in­jus­tice against the peo­ple of Kur­dis­tan," Barzani re­minded the world. Near the time of the lib­er­a­tion Barzani told a news con­fer­ence near the north­ern town: "I am here to an­nounce the lib­er­a­tion of Sin­jar."

His re­marks also made clear that po­lit­i­cal con­flict over Sin­jar would be likely to fol­low the mil­i­tary bat­tle for the town. "Sin­jar was lib­er­ated by the blood of the Pesh­merga and be­came part of Kur­dis­tan," Barzani said.

Hun­dreds of Kur­dish fight­ers, dressed in cam­ou­flage uni­forms and armed with as­sault ri­fles and ma­chine­guns, moved into the town on foot, an AFP jour­nal­ist re­ported. Car­ry­ing the Kur­dish re­gion's flag, they fired into the air and shouted "Long live the Pesh­merga!" and "Long live Kur­dis­tan!"

Fol­low­ing the op­er­a­tion, Kur­dis­tan Re­gional Se­cu­rity Coun­cil is­sued a state­ment read­ing that: “Op­er­a­tion Free Sin­jar su­per­vised by Pres­i­dent Mas­soud Barzani and sup­ported by the In­ter­na­tional Coali­tion, con­cluded at ap­prox­i­mately 1500hrs on 13 Novem­ber 2015 as Pesh­merga forces suc­cess­fully reached Sin­jar town.”

Op­er­a­tion Free Sin­jar achieved its pri­mary ob­jec­tives: to cor­don off Sin­jar town, dis­rupt High­way 47 from East and West Sin­jar, and cre­ate a buf­fer zone. In the course of the two-day op­er­a­tion, 28 vil­lages were re­taken from Is­lamic State in Iraq and the Le­vant (ISIL); more than 300 ter­ror­ists were killed by Pesh­merga forces and Coali­tion war­planes, and over 200 square kilo­me­tres were cleared and re­turned to the Kur­dis­tan Re­gion.

In his speech, the Kur­dis­tan Re­gional Gov­ern­ment (KRG) Prime Min­is­ter Nechir­van Barzani an­nounced that: “Lib­er­a­tion of Sin­jar is very im­por­tant to the peo­ple of Kur­dis­tan and the civ­i­lized world. The ISIS ter­ror­ists have com­mit­ted grave crimes in Syria and Iraq but the most bar­baric and heinous crimes were com­mit­ted in Sin­jar.” The PM de­scribed the crime com­mit­ted against the Kur­dish Yazidis as “An­fal against Kurds in Sin­jar”.

“I am pleased to in­form the beloved peo­ple of Sin­jar,“PM Barzani said, “that we will take all the le­gal and ad­min­is­tra­tive mea­sures in sup­port of their de­mand to turn Sin­jar into a prov­ince.”

The gains against IS are the lat­est sign that the ji­hadist group, which won a se­ries of vic­to­ries in a stun­ningly rapid of­fen­sive in Iraq last year, is now on the de­fen­sive. In­side Sin­jar, many houses and shops, a petrol sta­tion and the lo­cal gov­ern­ment head­quar­ters have been de­stroyed. Burned out cars sat in the streets, while bar­rels ap­par­ently con­tain­ing ex­plo­sives had been left be­hind.

The huge task of clear­ing Sin­jar of bombs planted by IS re­mains, and there is also the pos­si­bil­ity of hold­out ji­hadists, who have kept up at­tacks even af­ter other ar­eas in Iraq were said to have been re­taken.

In re­marks Fri­day, US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama ex­pressed sat­is­fac­tion with ef­forts against IS, say­ing the group's ex­pan­sion has been curbed. "From the start, our goal has been first to con­tain, and we have con­tained them," Obama said. In a rare ad­mis­sion on Thurs­day, the Pen­tagon said US ground forces ad­vis­ing the Kurds on their of­fen­sive were close enough to the front to iden­tify IS tar­gets and call in strikes.

Pen­tagon spokesman Peter Cook told re­porters most of the US-led coali­tion troops were be­hind the front lines work­ing with Kur­dish com­man­ders. “But there are some ad­vis­ers who are on Sin­jar Moun­tain, as­sist­ing in the se­lec­tion of air strike tar- gets".

"Sin­jar sits astride High­way 47, which is a key and crit­i­cal re­sup­ply route for IS,” War­ren said. "By seiz­ing Sin­jar, we'll be able to cut that line of com­mu­ni­ca­tion, which we be­lieve will con­strict [IS's] abil­ity to re­sup­ply them­selves, and is a crit­i­cal first step in the even­tual lib­er­a­tion of Mo­sul," he said of the ji­hadists' main hub in Iraq.

IS over­ran Sin­jar in Au­gust last year, forc­ing thou­sands of Yazidis to flee to the moun­tains over­look­ing the town, where they were trapped by the ji­hadists. The United Na­tions has de­scribed the at­tack on the Yazidis as a pos­si­ble geno­cide.

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