Kurds in Iraq Launch Offensive to Retake Sinjar
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Kurdish forces launched an offensive Thursday to take back Sinjar, the Iraqi town seized by ISIL militants last year, triggering the exodus of thousands of members of the minority Yazidi sect.
Some 7,500 Kurdish fighters — known as peshmerga — were involved, Kurdish authorities said. They flanked the city from three fronts.
The fall of the city to the ISIL militants in August 2014 sent tens of thousands of Yazidis fleeing to Mount Sinjar, where they became trapped. Thousands of women were captured by the group and have been used as sex slaves.
On the western side of the mountain, Kurdish forces moved forward to cut the road to the city at dawn on Thursday.
“We expect a lot of IEDS, car bombs, suicide bombing,” said Rawan Barzani, a Kudish commander. “Getting Sinjar back is crucial because then ISIL have to decide between Raqqa and Mosul,” he said, The Washington Post reported.
Sinjar lies on the main road between ISIL’s capital in Syria, Raqqa, and it’s Iraqi stronghold Mosul.
US officials estimate that there are around 400 to 550 ISIL militants in the town.
“It was a tragedy and we carry a great sorrow in each of us,” said Salim Shevan, a 28-year-old Yazidi fighter as he left for the frontlines. “We will have revenge”.
The operation, planned for weeks had stalled for weeks due to bad weather and political wrangling between different factions of Kurdish soldiers. Fighters affiliated with the PKK have held positions in the city, but Kurdish peshmerga forces launching the offensive are not cooperating with them.