Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Iraqi Kurds Seize Mt. Sinjar from Islamic State in Major Victory

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Iraqi Kurds Seize Mt. Sinjar from Islamic State in Major Victory

Article excerpt

Iraqi Kurdish fighters have broken the Islamic State's siege on Mount Sinjar in northern Iraq with the help of US-led airstrikes, freeing hundreds of people from the country's Yazidi minority who were trapped there for months, a senior Kurdish official said Thursday.

The development marks a major victory for the Kurdish fighters, known as peshmerga, and the US-led coalition against the self- described Islamic State (IS). The plight of the Yazidis, in addition to IS attacks across Iraq's semiautonomous Kurdish region, prompted the United States to begin airstrikes in the country in August.

The liberation of Mount Sinjar was part of a massive offensive peshmerga forces launched earlier this week against IS militants in northern Iraq. The Kurdish fighters recaptured a large swath of territory in the region over the last few days, reports The New York Times.

Masrour Barzani, the head of the Kurdistan Regional Security Council, called the operation "the single biggest military offensive against [IS], and the most successful."

A surge of airstrikes from the US-led coalition backed the Kurdish ground offensive. On Tuesday night, coalition forces launched 48 airstrikes near Mount Sinjar in the largest barrage yet, two US defense officials told CNN.

The New York Times called it a "successful demonstration of President Obama's strategy for battling the extremist group: American air power combined with local forces doing the fighting on the ground."

The Kurdish fighters' success in opening up a corridor on Mount Sinjar was, according to The Associated Press, an "incremental step" in their push to retake the town of Sinjar at the foothills of the mountain.

Mr. Barzani said the corridor enables Kurdish fighters to gain direct access to the Yazidis on the mountain and to provide them with humanitarian support.

"All those Yazidis that were trapped on the mountain are now free," Barzani said, according to Reuters.

'Disruptive to their planning'The siege began in August when IS forces surrounded the mountain and the tens of thousands of people from the Yazidi religious minority who sought refuge there. …

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