(Reuters) – Kurdish forces in northern Iraq are drawing up plans to break Islamic State’s siege of Sinjar mountain, where hundreds of minority Yazidis remain stranded months after fleeing their homes.
Seeking to regain territory and repair pride in his military forces, Masoud Barzani, president of Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish region, is overseeing efforts to retake the mountain, senior party members said.
Islamic State attacked the Sinjar area in August, sending thousands of Yazidis fleeing up the mountain, a craggy strip some 40 miles (65 km) long.
Hundreds of Yazidis were executed, Iraqi officials and witnesses said, by Islamic State militants who see the adherents of an ancient faith derived from Zoroastrianism as devil-worshippers. A senior U.N. rights official said the onslaught looked like “attempted genocide”.
Kurdish peshmerga forces have regained between 65 and 75 percent of the ground lost to Islamic State in the area since the U.S. began a campaign of air strikes in August, said Halgurd Hikmat, spokesman for the Kurdish Peshmerga Ministry.
But Sinjar’s awkward geography — out on a limb to the west, has made it difficult to penetrate.