Kurdish Peshmerga fighters have fought their way to Iraq’s Sinjar Mountains where hundreds of people have been trapped for months by militants of the Islamic State oPeshmargaf Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) terrorist group, a Kurdish official said.
“Peshmerga forces have reached Mount Sinjar, the siege on the mountain has been lifted,” Masrour Barzani, head of the Iraqi Kurdish region’s national security council, told reporters from an operations center near the border with Syria on Thursday.
The assault ended the months-long ordeal of hundreds of people from Iraq’s Yazidi minority, who had been besieged on the mountain since ISIL stormed Sinjar and other Kurdish-controlled parts of northern Iraq in August, he said.
“All those Yazidis that were trapped on the mountain are now free,” Barzani said, but added that the Peshmerga had not yet begun to evacuate them.
He said 100 ISIL fighters had been killed – a claim that could not be independently verified.
Lieutenant General James Terry, head of the US-led campaign against ISIL, said more than 50 air strikes in recent days “have resulted in allowing those [Kurdish] forces to maneuver and regain approximately 100 square kilometers of ground” near Sinjar.