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Kurdish forces free Sinjar from IS in northern Iraq

(Xinhua) Updated: 2015-11-13 19:39

Kurdish forces free Sinjar from IS in northern Iraq

Members of the Kurdish peshmerga forces gather in the town of Sinjar, Iraq November 13, 2015. Kurdish peshmerga forces secured several strategic facilities in the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar on Friday as part of an offensive against Islamic State militants that could provide critical momentum in efforts to defeat the jihadist group.

BAGHDAD -- Iraqi Kurdish forces on Friday freed the town of Sinjar in the northern province of Nineveh from Islamic State (IS) militants, a Kurdish security source said.

The troops, known as Peshmerga, entered the town which located some 100 km west of the IS-held city of Mosul, from three directions and managed to seize all the neighborhoods of the town, the source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.

The Kurdish forces encountered little resistance from the extremist militants with many of them apparently fleeing the town before the troops' advance, the source said, adding that sporadic clashes could be heard with a few pockets in southern part of the town.

The Kurdish forces raised Kurdish flag on the main buildings of the town, while explosive experts started a campaign to defuse dozens of roadside bombs, car bombs and booby-trapped buildings that were planted by the extremist militants before their departure, the source added.

The recapture of Sinjar will cut the supply route between the IS strongholds in Syria and the IS bastion of Mosul, the capital of Nineveh province which itself located about 400 km north of Baghdad, the source said.

On Thursday, a Kurdish security source told Xinhua that a major offensive to free Sinjar from IS militants was launched by Peshmerga under the supervision of Masoud Barzani, the president of the semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan, adding that some 6,000 paramilitary Yazidis are taking part in the offensive to free their town from the extremist militants.

The Yazidi minority are primarily ethnic Kurds whose religion incorporates elements of many faiths. There are about 600,000 Yazidis live in Iraq with around 80 percent of them living in the towns of Sinjar and Ba'shika in Nineveh province.

Nineveh's towns of Sinjar, Zumar and Sunoni are parts of the disputed areas of mixed ethnicities of Kurds, Arabs, Turkmans and others.

The Kurds demanded the expansion of their sovereign region in northern Iraq to include the oil-rich province of Kirkuk and other areas in the Iraqi provinces of Nineveh, Salahudin and Diyala, but their request was fiercely opposed by the Iraqi government.

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