The Iraqi Ghost Town Where ISIS Massacred 5,000

Members of the Sinjar Resistance Units detonate improvised explosive devices captured from Islamic State fighters near the village of Umm al-Dhiban, northern Iraq, April 30. Reuters

This article and video below first appeared on The Daily Signal.

Sinjar in northern Iraq was home to more than 88,000 civilians in 2013. Today, there are none left living here.

As The Daily Signal's foreign correspondent, I visited Sinjar, where more than 5,000 civilians died at the hands of the Islamic State militant group (ISIS). This is my video report.

The background: ISIS took over the town in August 2014. Most civilians fled, becoming refugees. ISIS militants rounded up those who remained, systematically murdering Yazidis, Christians and Shiite Muslims in what the United States has called a genocide. The ages of the dead ranged from 1 to 70.

After two days of fighting in November 2015, Kurdish and Yazidi forces, backed by U.S. airstrikes, liberated Sinjar. Now the town is a wasteland. The physical destruction is nearly total.

ISIS positions are only about 2 to 3 miles outside the town, and fighting is ongoing. Artillery and rocket attacks still occur daily, sometimes striking in the heart of the town. Suicide bomber attacks are also common.

Consequently, the approximately 5,000 Kurdish soldiers defending the Sinjar area are on guard. They are supported by airpower from Operation Inherent Resolve, the U.S.-led international coalition combatting ISIS.

Roughly 7,000 Kurdish peshmerga soldiers took part in liberating the Sinjar region, with about 1,500 dedicated to taking the town itself. They faced about 200 dug-in ISIS fighters.

The town was heavily booby-trapped, the peshmerga soldiers said. More than 100 buildings inside Sinjar were rigged with explosives set on trip wires or remotely detonated improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

About 15 peshmerga soldiers were killed and 30 injured due to the booby traps and IEDs. Peshmerga commanders said 35 ISIS militants died in the battle, with more bodies likely hidden within the rubble.

Nolan Peterson, a former special operations pilot and a combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, is The Daily Signal's foreign correspondent based in Ukraine.