Kurds say they’ve re­taken ter­ri­tory near Sin­jar Moun­tain in north­ern Iraq

The Kurdish Globe - - NEWS -

Kur­dish Pesh­merga forces say they've re­cap­tured ter­ri­tory near Sin­jar Moun­tain in north­ern Iraq, where dra­matic air­drops were made last sum­mer to the Yazidis, one of Iraq's small­est mi­nori­ties.

The Kur­dish mil­i­tary says it has "cleansed" the area of ISIS fight­ers with the help of coali­tion airstrikes.

The op­er­a­tion rep­re­sents the sin­gle big­gest and most suc­cess­ful mil­i­tary of­fen­sive against ISIS, said the Kur­dis­tan Re­gion Se­cu­rity Coun­cil in a news release.

Last sum­mer, the siege of Sin­jar forced the Yazidis, one of Iraq's small­est mi­nori­ties, to flee the ISIS ad­vance.

They found refuge in the sur­round­ing moun­tains but were trapped with­out food, wa­ter or med­i­cal care in the heat be­fore coali­tion forces air­dropped sup­plies and res­cued some of them.

Thou­sands of Yazidis fled on foot to Syria. Only a few hun­dred are left on Sin­jar Moun­tain.

The plight of the Yazidis, cou­pled with the ISIS as­sault against Iraq's semi­au­tonomous Kur­dish re­gion, prompted the United States to be­gin tar­geted airstrikes in Iraq last Au­gust.

Coali­tion air­craft con­ducted 48 airstrikes near Sin­jar on Tues­day night, the heav­i­est con­cen­tra­tions of airstrikes to date, ac­cord­ing to two US de­fense of­fi­cials.

The U.S. mil­i­tary says it has con­ducted 1,300 airstrikes to slow down ISIS.

In Novem­ber, airstrikes killed two top-level and one mid-level ISIS leader, in­clud­ing Abu Bakr al-Bagh­dadi's deputy and the emir of Mo­sul, a se­nior U.S. mil­i­tary of­fi­cial told CNN.

The most re­cent airstrikes were aimed at sup­port­ing Pesh­merga fight­ers ef­forts to open a land cor­ri­dor from Sin­jar north to Do­huk in north­ern Iraq, of­fi­cials said.

"We have opened a corri- dor from south of Zum­mar to the Moun­tain Sin­jar," said Mas­rour Barzani, chan­cel­lor of the Kur­dis­tan Re­gion Se­cu­rity Coun­cil, on Thurs­day.

The cor­ri­dor en­abled the Pesh­merga to gain direct ac­cess to dis­placed peo­ple trapped on Mount Sin­jar and to pro­vide hu­man­i­tar­ian sup­port, he said.

ISIS fight­ers fled to­ward the Syr­ian border and ISIS strongholds such as Mo­sul and Tal 'Afar, the Kur­dis­tan Re­gion Se­cu­rity Coun­cil news release said.

"ISIS is al­ways making dam­age, killed the peo­ple, steal the stuff, kid­nap­ping peo­ple, tak­ing money from peo­ple. That's what ISIS is do­ing, and that's not Is­lam," said Pesh­merga fighter Khalid Su­ley­men Ko­laoh, who was on the front line.

"We're not see­ing the broad of­fen­sive move­ment we saw in May and June," Gen. James Terry, com­man­der of Op­er­a­tion In­her­ent Re­solve, told re­porters at the Pen­tagon on Thurs­day.

He said the mil­i­tary is see­ing signs that ISIS is hav­ing a hard time com­mu­ni­cat­ing with its fight­ers and re­sup­ply­ing them. There's also so­cial me­dia traf­fic out of Mo­sul that shows an "in­abil­ity of their self-de­clared caliphate to gov­ern pop­u­la­tion cen­ters," Terry said.

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