Iraqi Kurdish leader hails 'historic' gains against ISIL

Barzani says fight with ISIL will take long in a press conference on Mount Sinjar, a day after his Peshmerga forces wrestled control of Sinjar district from ISIL

Iraqi Kurdish leader hails 'historic' gains against ISIL

World Bulletin/News Desk

Iraqi Kurdish regional government leader Masoud Barzani on Sunday described Peshmerga forces' recent gains against ISIL as “historic," as he visited Peshmerga forces and Ezidis on the northwestern Mount Sinjar, where the ISIL’s weeks-long siege has been broken.

After getting updates from Peshmerga commanders, Barzani held a press conference on the mountain. “It is not only a fight of Kurds. It is a fight for all the world and human dignity,” he said.

The Kurdish Peshmerga forces took control of Sinjar on Saturday after three days of clashes. A statement from Barzani's office said that around 8,000 Peshmerga participated in the operation, which began with international coalition airstrikes followed by a ground assault.

“All the regions close to Sinjar are under our control right now. There are some areas in the city center where terrorists still hold control. We will also seize these areas soon,” Barzani said. 

“The fight (against ISIL) will take long. Defeating ISIL here does not mean they are repelled completely. They may attack in other regions,“ he added. “We will continue preserving our lands. We are also ready to give necessary support to get Mosul back."

The Kurdish leader also noted that peshmerga forces were getting rid of explosive materials in the liberated districts. “After we clean the districts completely, our Yazidi brothers can return their homes.”

ISIL had been in control of Sinjar, which is 77 miles west of Mosul -- where the group began its large-scale campaign that tore through Iraq -- and home to many Yazidi Kurds. The Yazidi population is estimated at 600,000 and a number of Yazidi minority groups live in Turkey, Syria, Iran, Georgia and Armenia.

The U.S. is leading an international coalition which has carried out numerous airstrikes against ISIL in Iraq and Syria since the militant group took over Mosul, in northern Iraq, in June. 

U.S.-led forces attacked ISIL targets on Sunday with 13 air strikes in Iraq and three in Syria, using fighter, bomber and other aircraft, the U.S. military said.

Four of the Iraq strikes were near Sinjar in northern Iraq, which destroyed ISIL buildings, tactical units and vehicles. Other Iraqi cities targeted included Tal Afar, Ramadi, Mosul and Baiji, according to the Combined Joint Task Force.

The strikes in Syria focused around the contested city of Kobani near the Turkish border, it said in a statement.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 21 Aralık 2014, 17:19

Muhammed Öylek