Peshmerga Forces Liberate Sinjar From ISIS: Iraqi-Kurdish Leader

Kurdish Peshmerga forces have recaptured the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar from the Islamic State (ISIS) group in an offensive supported by U.S.-led airstrikes, the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) President Masoud Barzani said on Friday.

Barzani announced that Kurdish forces had retaken the town in a press conference held on Mount Sinjar. His announcement came just hours after the authority, who oversee the semi-autonomous territory in northern Iraq, said that ISIS were "defeated and on the run" in the town. ISIS captured the town last August, killing thousands of Yazidi men and enslaving thousands of Yazidi women and children.

The Kurdistan Region Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani released a statement congratulating the president for the "liberation operation" and "all the brave Peshmergas for liberating Sinjar." He also thanked the U.S. and members of the anti-ISIS coalition for their support in the operation.

A KRG foreign ministry official, speaking to Newsweek from Erbil on condition of anonymity as he was not authorised to speak to media, hailed the liberation of the town and called on the international community to provide assistance for hundreds of enslaved Yazidis freed in the operation.

"What the Peshmerga did today is a great success for humanity. [The occupation of Sinjar] was a huge suffering for all people in Kurdistan," the official says. "It underpins the conception that if the Peshmerga are supported, we can defeat ISIS. We have the will to fight, we have the determination to fight. It is our land.

"There's a lot to be done by the international community, especially for the Yazidi women who have been rescued," he adds. "They are suffering from psychological trauma from the torture, rape and enslavement. We do not have the capacity to build a rehabilitation center for them."

As the operation launched on Wednesday, some 7,500 Peshmerga fighters cut off key ISIS supply routes into the town before entering and forcing the militant group into retreat. Before it was recaptured, Kurdish fighters seized a silo, cement factory, hospital and several public buildings, the Kurdish Security Council said in a tweet.

The Kurdish military body added that Kurdish forces entered the town "from all directions" to clear the territory of remaining ISIS militants. Yazidi forces also played a supporting role in the operation to free the town. It is the largest coordinated military operation to oust ISIS from territory since the U.S.-led coalition initiated to fight the militant group in August last year.

Elsewhere, the Iraqi military launched an offensive on the ISIS-held city of Ramadi in Iraq's western Anbar Province on Friday. The group captured the provincial capital in May in the largest defeat for the Baghdad government since the fall of Mosul in June last year.

Peshmerga Forces Liberate Sinjar From ISIS: Iraqi-Kurdish Leader |