The Kurdish peshmerga army managed to free hundreds of Yazidis who were under siege by the Islamic State and had previously been forced to take refuge on Mount Sinjar, Iraqi Kurdish leadership announced Thursday.
“The peshmerga have managed to reach the mountain. A vast area has been liberated,” claimed Masrour Barzani, who is the Chancellor of the Kurdistan Regional Security Council and son of Kurdish President Masoud Barzani. “Now a corridor is open and hopefully the rest of the (Sinjar) region will be freed from Islamic State (ISIS) fighters.”
Barzani said that the peshmerga were assisted by US air strikes in their offensive against ISIS’s position near Sinjar, The Guardian reported. “All those Yazidis that were trapped on the mountain are now free,” said Barzani, adding that the peshmerga were currently developing plans to evacuate the Yazidis to a safe location.
The peshmerga assault began Wednesday, which ended in the recapturing of some 270 square miles from Islamic State jihadis. They were supported by U.S. jets, which bombarded ISIS positions, carrying out 45 strikes between Wednesday and Thursday, The Guardian reported. U.S. officials said around 8,000 peshmerga soldiers took part in the mission. The Pentagon reported that “all [U.S.] aircraft returned to base safely.”
The U.S. air strikes continued into Friday, with four attacks on the Islamic State in Syria and 11 in Iraq.
U.S. Lieutenant General James Terry said Friday that ISIS is no longer on the offensive in its pursuit of further expansion. The Islamic State “has been halted and is transitioning to the defense and is attempting to hold what they currently have,” said Terry.
Terry’s optimistic prediction was shared by a peshmerga colonel, who told VOA Friday of the ISIS fighters, “With the help of our friends and the alliance, we will evict them from all Iraq.”
In August, President Obama seemingly declared ‘Mission Accomplished’ when it came to rescuing the Yazidis, telling reporters: “It’s unlikely that we are going to need to continue humanitarian airdrops on the mountain… Because of the skill and professionalism of our military, and the generosity of our efforts, we broke the [Islamic State] siege of Mount Sinjar, we helped vulnerable people reach safety and we helped save many innocent lives.”
However, reports surfaced contradicting President Obama’s ‘Mission Accomplished’ narrative, as multiple reports revealed that countless Yazidis remained under siege on Sinjar.