Iraqi Kurdish forces rapidly advance within Sinjar

Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga forces rapidly advance against DAESH in Yazidi minority stronghold of Sinjar amid US-backed offensive against DAESH terrorist group

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Members of the Kurdish peshmerga forces gather in the town of Sinjar, November 12, 2015

Iraqi Peshmerga forces reportedly seized control of Sinjar governor’s office on their grande offense against DAESH onThursday, according to the Kurdistan Democratic Party.

Peshmerga forces clashed with DAESH terrorists in central Sinjar and are currently advancing rapidly through the city, taking control of many villages east of the district, according to Hemin Hawrami, head of foreign relations at the KDP.

Hawrami confirmed the reports on his Twitter account, adding that the Peshmerga successfully took control of a strategic road that connects Sinjar with Raqqa, DAESH's proclaimed capital in Syria.

The Peshmerga forces have launched an operation to liberate the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar from DAESH terrorists with the support of air strikes carried out by the US-led coalition on Thursday.

Sinjar and its surrounding region, a stronghold for Iraq’s minority Yazidi community, was seized by DAESH in August 2014 shortly after the terrorist group overran Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city after the capital Baghdad.

An estimated 50,000 Yazidis fled the area to escape persecution by DAESH, while many remained stranded on Mount Sinjar, depending on US airdrops for supplies.

According to a statement by the Kurdish Regional Security Council on Thursday, around 7,500 Peshmerga fighters were taking part in the operation, budded Free Sinjar.

The operation was launched on three fronts in a bid to cut off Highway 47, which leads into the region, in order to prevent vital supplies from reaching the DAESH terrorists.

Highway 47 indirectly links Sinjar to the DAESH strongholds of Mosul and the Syrian city of Raqqa, the de facto capital of the group’s self-proclaimed “caliphate.”

The route is regularly used to transport weapons, goods and militants for the terrorist group.

It is also hoped that once cleared of DAESH, the region could become "a significant buffer zone to protect the city and its inhabitants from incoming artillery,” the statement said.

"(Peshmerga) troops are holding their position, waiting for reinforcements and more airstrikes so they can then move into the centre of the town,” front line commander Maj. Gen. Seme Busal was quoted saying by the Associated Press.

“Airstrikes have been very important to the operation getting to the point where it is now,” he continued.

Capt. Bawer Azad said that the Peshmerga forces were currently coordinating their assault.

"We are updating each other on the location and who's making advances where and who's in what place," he said.

According to the autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government’s official news outlet Rudow, the Peshmerga successfully seized the village of Gabara on Thursday morning and are now marching on towards the town of Shingal.

The villages of Gre Tl Shore and Fadheliya to the east of Sinjar, was also liberated, the Kurdistan Regional Security Council’s official Twitter page reported.

While the US refused to give estimates on the number of DAESH terrorists in the area, the Peshmerga said that around 600 terrorists were present.

The offensive marks the second attempt to regain the region from DAESH after a previous effort failed last December.

Meanwhile, the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces on the other side of the border, a coalition force mainly consisting of Kurdish YPG militants, is also preparing to launch an offensive to retake Raqqa.

The US-led coalition has been carrying out air strikes on DAESH targets in Syria and Iraq since September 2014, preventing the terrorists from expanding their territory into other parts of the neighbouring countries.

Earlier this year, US-led coalition air strikes helped the YPG, which has links to the PKK terrorist group based in southeastern Turkey, to seize the northern Syrian town of Kobane along the Turkish border from DAESH.

Kurdish Peshmerga forces from Iraq also arrived in Kobane to help in the battle against DAESH after being given permission to cross into Syria via Turkey.

The YPG have since been gaining ground against DAESH in other parts of northern Syria, where the Kurdish PYD has declared three autonomous cantons in Afrin, Kobane and Jazira.

Last month, a US soldier became the first American to be killed in combat with DAESH during a joint operation with Peshmerga forces to release hostages held by the terrorists near the Iraqi city of Kirkuk.

Iran-backed Shiite militias also joined forces with the Iraqi army to clear the Iraqi city of Tikrit from DAESH earlier this year with the aid of US-led air strikes.

TRTWorld and agencies