The President of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region, Massud Barzani, has announced the “liberation” of the Iraqi town of Sinjar from ISIS following a major operation led by Kurdish forces and local Yazidis in northern Iraq.
It is the latest setback for the so called Islamic State who had targeted the Yazidi minority of Sinjar in a barbaric campaign of rape, enslavement, torture and massacres.
“I am here to announce the liberation of Sinjar,” Barzani said at a news conference.
RTE Ireland reports:
Speaking in Tunisia around the same time, US Secretary of State John Kerry said he was “absolutely confident” the town would be freed in the operation by Kurdish peshmerga backed by US-led air strikes and ground spotters.
The lightning assault, which also involved fighters from the Yazidi minority that IS has brutally targeted in the Sinjar area, began yesterday morning.
Kurdish forces were able to cut Highway 47, one of the IS’s main supply routes to neighbouring Syria, which runs past Sinjar, and entered the town the following day.
However, Mr Barzani’s remarks also made clear the battle for Sinjar was likely to be followed by political conflict.
“Sinjar was liberated by the blood of the peshmerga and became part of Kurdistan,” Mr Barzani said.
The Iraqi government, which has long opposed Kurdish leaders’ ambitions to expand their autonomous region by incorporating a swathe of neighbouring historically Kurdish-majority territory, is unlikely to welcome the idea of Sinjar becoming part.
Non-peshmerga groups that have fought IS in the Sinjar area, including Yazidi groups and Syrian Kurdish fighters from the People’s Protection Units, may resent Mr Barzani’s assertion of peshmerga primacy and control over the area.
Meanwhile, at least 19 people have been killed in a series of bomb attacks targeting Shia Muslims in Baghdad.
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