Operation Free Sinjar: Kurds, Yazidis launch attack to take back Iraqi town from Daesh

Published November 12th, 2015 - 07:06 GMT
Kurdish peshmerga fighters outside of Sinjar, Iraq in August, 2015. (AFP/Safin Hamed)
Kurdish peshmerga fighters outside of Sinjar, Iraq in August, 2015. (AFP/Safin Hamed)

Reuters reports that Kurdish forces, along with several Yazidi military units, launched an attack on the Daesh-held town of Sinjar in northern Iraq on Thursday.

Daesh has controlled Sinjar for more than a year, after killing and ensalving thousands of Yazidi citizens. The town is strategically located on the main highway that connects Mosul and Raqqa - Daesh's two main strongholds. 

Operation Free Sinjar, as the Kurdish-lead offensive is called, intends to cut off Daesh supply routes while circumnavigating the town - to prevent as many civilian casualties as possible.

On Wednesday night, US-led airstrikes hit many Daesh targets in northern Iraq. Meanwhile, thousands of Kurdish special forces, peshmerga (the military of Iraqi Kurdistan) and Yazidi troops advance from Sinjar mountain toward the town.

The Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) trained a Yazidi militia within Sinjar, and several thousand Yazidi outside of the city have joined the peshmerga.

Hussein Derbo, the head of a peshmerga unit consisting of 440 Yazidis, said that his men are fighting for retribution, after Daesh's attack in August 2014 massacred thousands of Yazidi. While Kurdish forces pushed Daesh out of the northern side of Sinjar mountain in December 2014, extremists still control over 80 percent of the area.

"It is our land and our honour. They (Islamic State) stole our dignity. We want to get it back," Derbo told Reuters.

US-led airstrikes on Daesh in northern Iraq began in August 2014, in an attempt to stop the mass murdering of Yazidi in the region. Dozens of airstrikes have occured in the past few weeks, in coordination with Operation Free Sinjar.

The offensive on Sinjar has been delayed for weeks by bad weather and disputes between Kurdish and Yazidis forces. Daesh forces in the city have increased by over 500 in anticipation of the attack. The battle is ongoing.

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