Iraqi Kurdish forces launched a major offensive Wednesday to recapture the northern town of Sinjar from the Al Qaeda breakaway group Islamic State, part of an effort to secure the road to the Syrian border.
Ethnic Kurdish military forces known as peshmerga mounted a multi-pronged attack to retake Sinjar and eight villages in the region, according to Rudaw, the semiofficial news service of the Kurdish regional government.
The area has been the scene of intense battles recently after Islamic State’s takeover in the summer of Mosul, about 70 miles to the east. Fighting trapped thousands of Yazidis, a religious minority denounced by Islamic State as infidels, some of whom had to be flown to safety.
It is the latest chapter in the Kurds’ ongoing battle against the Sunni Muslim militants, who have declared a religious state, or caliphate, in lands seized across Iraq and Syria.
The United States has led a rescue operation in the region, including an international campaign of airstrikes against the militants.
Peshmerga officials refused to comment on the offensive Wednesday, citing ongoing operations.
Bulos is a special correspondent.