Isis latest: Kurdish forces 'break' the siege of Mount Sinjar

Kurdish forces claim it is their 'biggest victory yet' against the extremist militant group

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Kurdish forces have claimed their 'biggest victory yet' against Isis militants after breaking the siege of Mount Sinjar in northern Iraq.

Kurdish peshmerga fighters fought their way to Iraq's Sinjar mountain and freed people trapped there by Isis fighters, a Kurdish leader said on Thursday.

The Kurdish assault against Isis began with 45 US-led coalition air strikes on Wednesday.

Thousands of Yazidis and displaced Iraqis have been trapped on the mountain since Isis captured the town of Sinjar in August.

Many Yazidis were eventually airlifted off the mountain or escorted by a passageway through Syria back into Iraq, to find refuge in the Iraqi Kurdish semi-autonomous region in northern Iraq, but thousands more came later and remained stuck on the mountain.

The two-pronged ground offensive, which began on Wednesday, saw around 8,000 peshmerga fighters advance from Zumar, in the east - which Kurdish forces recaptured in October.

They successfully took back 270 square miles over two days, aided by US forces, which carried out 45 strikes in support of Kurdish fighters in addition to two strikes near Sinjar. It is believed to be the most intensive round of air strikes yet by US and coalition forces.

Masrur Barzani, Chancellor of the Kurdistan Region Security Council, described it as a "very big operation" that had successfully opened up a corridor to allow those trapped in the area to leave. "Thankfully it was concluded very successfully," he said.

A statement from the Kurdish command said large numbers of militant fighters had fled westwards into Syria or eastwards towards Mosul, which they captured in June.

Eight villages have also been recaptured and about 80 militants killed.