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Kurdish Forces Seize Iraq’s Sinjar Town
International

Kurdish Forces Seize Iraq’s Sinjar Town

Kurdish peshmerga forces backed by US airstrikes seized the Iraqi town of Sinjar from Islamic State on Friday, a Reuters witness said, in one of the most significant counter-attacks since the militants swept through the north last year.

“ISIL defeated and on the run,” the Kurdistan regional security council said in a tweet, using an acronym for Islamic State. It said the peshmerga had secured Sinjar’s wheat silo, cement factory, hospital and several other public buildings, Reuters reported.

Iraqi Kurdish regional President Massoud Barzani also declared victory in an offensive that could provide critical momentum in efforts to capture the western provincial capital Ramadi, and Mosul in the north, an Islamic State bastion.

“The liberation of Sinjar will have a big impact on liberating Mosul,” Barzani told reporters atop Mount Sinjar, overlooking the town. The recapture of Sinjar from Islamic State came as evidence grew that the group had suffered another setback with the probable death in an air strike in northern Syria of Jihadi John, a Briton who had appeared in videos showing the beheadings of American and British hostages.

In the Sinjar area itself, the operation severed vital supply routes used by Islamic State to move fighters, weapons and oil and other illicit commodities that provide funding for its self-proclaimed caliphate. Civilians appeared to have fled the town before the operation began. But it was still not clear if most Islamic State militants had carried out a tactical withdrawal.

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