Kurds enter Iraqi Sinjar, raise flag, ISIS ‘defeated & running’ – reports
Hundreds of Peshmerga fighters have reportedly walked into northern Iraqi town of Sinjar “from all directions,” following an offensive that began on Thursday. The Kurdistan Regional Security Council tweeted that Islamic State is “defeated and on the run.”
A Reuters correspondent on the ground has confirmed that Kurdish Peshmerga units enforced with Yazidi fighters and with air support from the US-led coalition have broken down resistance of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) militants who have been controlling Sinjar since August last year.
Another Reuters witness reported of heavy bursts of gunfire heard inside the town.
“ISIL defeated and on the run,” tweeted the Kurdistan Regional Security Council. The council confirmed that Peshmerga forces have knocked the jihadists out of a Sinjar cement factory, hospital, silo and several administration buildings.
The president of Iraq's Kurdistan autonomous region Massoud Barzani has confirmed at a press conference that northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been captured from Islamic State militants. At the same time, US Secretary of State John Kerry has made a more cautious remark, saying the US “absolutely confident” that Sinjar will be liberated within days.
The Kurds are now occupying positions along the Highway 47, the major supply route between the Iraqi city of Mosul, occupied by jihadists, and the so-called ‘capital’ of IS terrorists, the Syrian city of Raqqa.
Now this principal supply route is under Kurdish control, the jihadists are guaranteed to have problems with transporting arms and ammunition, fighters and commodities used in illicit trade to finance IS activities.
The Kurds have fought back from IS over 150 sq km of territory near the town of Sinjar and cognominal district. It is estimated that some 7,500 forces that besieged Sinjar on Thursday were countered by about 600 IS militants within the town. Reuters notes that the latest figure was an account by Brigadier General Seme Mala Mohammed of the Kurdish Peshmerga, and the news agency could not independently verify his account.
Apart from the fact that the city is situated astride a strategic highway, liberating Sinjar is viewed as a matter of great humanitarian and symbolic importance.
Last year, after IS captured Sinjar, tens of thousands of Yazidis fled the city into the mountains, where the militants trapped many of them, exposing civilians to extreme conditions of blazing heat and lack of water. Shortly afterwards the US and its allies started an airstrike campaign against IS in Iraq.