Iraq Kurd forces enter town of Sinjar from north: AFP
SINJAR, Iraq - Agence France-Presse
AFP photoIraqi Kurdish forces entered Sinjar on Nov. 13 in a major operation to retake the northern town from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) jihadist group, an AFP journalist reported.
Kurdish peshmerga forces moved on foot into the town, where many houses and shops have been destroyed, and damaged cars sat in the street.
Jihadist graffiti, including "The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant", had been painted on some houses, and barrels apparently containing explosives had been left behind.
The major operation, which is led by the autonomous Kurdish region's peshmerga forces and also involves fighters from the Yazidi minority that has been brutally targeted by ISIL, succeeded in cutting a key jihadist supply line through the town to neighbouring Syria on Nov. 12.
Anti-ISIL forces then deployed around the town and prepared to move in.
Permanently cutting the supply line, which links ISIL's Iraq hub Mosul with areas it holds in Syria, would hamper the jihadists' ability to move fighters, equipment and other supplies between the two countries.
"By seizing Sinjar, we'll be able to cut that line of communication, which we believe will constrict (ISIL's) ability to resupply themselves, and is a critical first step in the eventual liberation of Mosul," said Colonel Steve Warren, spokesman for the international operation against ISIL.
ISIL overran Sinjar in August last year, forcing thousands of Yazidis to flee to the mountains overlooking the town, where they were trapped by the jihadists.
The United Nations has described the attack as a possible genocide, and on Nov. 12 the US Holocaust Memorial Museum echoed that claim in a report detailing allegations of rape, torture and murder by ISIL against the minority.
Aiding the Yazidis, whose unique faith Sunni Muslim group ISIL considers heretical, was one of Washington's main justifications for starting its air campaign against the jihadists last year.