With the help of coalition airstrikes, Kurdish forces were earlier able to open a corridor from the Sinjar Mountains allowing Yazidis to finally escape. They have been besieged in the mountains since August.
And now the Kurdish forces have been able to free more swaths of territory from the ISIS militants. The militants were driven away from the northern part of the mountain and the peshmerga forces are one step closer to recapturing the whole SInjar region which borders Syria.
A total of 8000 Kurdish forces are fighting on the ground and they are being supported by intensified coalition airstrikes. Though the Yazidis now have a way to come out of their hiding place, the rescue and evacuation operations have not started yet. As of now the Kurdish forces are setting up defensive perimeters and they will start evacuating people soon after.
The next step in the ongoing offensive is to secure the town of Sinjar at the foot of the mountain. This town is very strategically located as it links ISIS controlled Mosul to Syria and also acts as a major supply route for the insurgents. The town is also symbolically important to the Kurds who suffered a loss of face when the town was taken over by ISIS and the peshmerga in Sinjar were defeated.
Nigeria has been beleaguered by the Islamist militant group Boko Haram. Boko Haram means “western education is sinful” and the group has been determinedly carrying out one terrorist act after another in order to establish an Islamist state in the country.
Just a few months ago they abducted nearly 200 school girls from Chibok. And despite many efforts by the government to get the girls back home, the girls were allegedly sold or married of to Muslim men. And now only 24 km away from Chibok something similar has happened.
From the village of Gumsari in Northeast Nigeria, over 170 women and children were abducted by unknown gunmen. 35 people were killed in the attack. Though the militant group has as yet not claimed responsibility for the attack, there are striking similarities between the kidnappings at Chibok and this one.
The kidnappings in Gumsari occurred on Sunday however; due to the remoteness of the village the news became public only now. The Nigerian army is trying to root out the militants from the country but they haven’t had much success. Meanwhile, common people continue to suffer as the terrorist group continues to abduct and kill more people, most of whom are women.
Between Dec 3rd and Dec 9th, three senior ISIS leaders were killed in Iraq in airstrikes by US led coalition forces. Abd al Basit and Haji Mutazz were two of the leaders who died in the airstrikes. However, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was not among the dead.
Abd al-Basit was a key military chief for ISIS while haji Mutazz was deputy to Baghdadi. The confirmation about the deaths came from Martin Dempsey, who is the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He also said that the efforts of the collation forces is bearing fruit and severely disrupting the operations of IS insurgents.
The news about the deaths came right after the orders for the first group of US troops to go to Iraq was signed. A total of 1,500 US troops will be deployed in Iraq in order to combat the threat posed by ISIS. However, these troops will not serve in a combat capacity but will instead provide training and advise to the Iraqi army.According to Lt. Gen James Terry who is heading the US forces in Iraq, it will take at least 3 years to build the capabilities of the Iraqi army.
In their greatest victory against the ISIS militants till date, Kurdish forces have freed a large amount of territory from ISIS and have created a corridor from the autonomous Kurdish region to Mount Sinjar which has been under ISIS control since August. Many of the militants seems to have fled to Syria or towards Mosul which is still under ISIS control
The Kurdish forces also known as peshmerga numbered at 8,000 and they were backed by US airstrikes which incessantly targeted ISIS shelters and holds in the region since the offensive began on Wednesday. The military operation lasted for two days and has successfully created a path to freedom for the tens and thousands of people from the Yazidi minority community who fled to the mountains in August following ISIS’s capture of SInjar and Zumar town, and have been trapped there ever since.
Though this is being considered as a significant victory for the Kurdish forces, it is only a step towards the ultimate goal, which is to capture the town of Sinjar from the ISIS forces. This offensive also saw some of the heaviest airstrikes from the US forces and the total airstrike in just two days numbered at 45.
Kurdish and Iraqi forces have renewed their efforts to take back areas in the Syrian border. These area were captured by IS months ago and have been under their rule ever since. One of the main targets of the Iraqi forces is Sinjar. This region was inhabited by people of the Yazidi community. When IS attacked, majority of the people abandoned their homes and fled, but hundreds were killed by the militants and hundreds more were abducted.
The two fold plan will be launched at Rabia, near the Syrian border and Zumar, near Mosul Dam Lake. The coalition air force is backing up the attack. They are targeting IS strongholds and shelters in both regions. The Kurdish forces seem to be making progress as they have already freed three villages. But they still have a tough job ahead as their goal is to liberate the whole of Sinjar region.
Once this area is freed, the Iraqi forces will gain access to the Sinjar Mountain where hundreds of Yazidis are still under siege. Iraqi forces have gained considerable ground in their fight against IS and have recaptured many regions that they lost earlier. However, because of the geography of Sinjar, it has remained a stronghold of IS militants.