Iraq Kurds make gains against Daesh in Sinjar battle
Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga forces have managed to retake some positions from the Daesh Takfiri group in northwestern Iraq as a fresh offensive is under way for taking back the strategic town of Sinjar.
“The attack began at 7:00 am (0400 GMT), and the Peshmerga forces advanced on several axes to liberate the center of the Sinjar district,” senior Peshmerga officer Major General Ezzeddine Saadun said on Thursday.
A statement by the security council of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) said at least 30 Daesh militants have been killed over the past 24 hours of battle in and around Sinjar. It said Daesh has now “resorted” to planting car bombs on the roads and streets where the Peshmerga forces are making advances.
Other officials said the Peshmerga have regained control of multiple villages north of Sinjar. Kurdish forces have also cut off a major highway linking Iraq to the Syrian town of Raqqah, which is claimed by Daesh as its de facto capital.
The KRG said that the highway 47 is now cut off from both eastern and western sides of Sinjar, saying experts are busy securing the road for further progress of the Kurdish fighters.
Kurdish sources had earlier said that up to 7,500 Kurdish fighters would take part in the operation in Sinjar, a town located around 40 kilometers from the border with Syria, where Daesh carried out a brutal campaign of killings, enslavement and rape against the Izadi religious minority.
Major General Hashem Seetayi, another Peshmerga officer, said the ongoing operation is aimed at establishing “a significant buffer zone” to protect Sinjar and its inhabitants from incoming artillery, adding that coalition warplanes will provide close air support to Peshmerga forces throughout the operation.
Around 300 to 400 Daesh forces are estimated to be still inside Sinjar. The liberation of the town would be a serious blow to Daesh as it cuts off the militants’ supply line from Syria and would further isolate them in Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, which fell into the hands of the group last summer.