Thousands flee Iraq's Sinjar as ISIL advances

Thousands of Iraqis have fled the town of Sinjar near the city of Mosul to Erbil, the capital of the autonomous Kurdish region.

Thousands flee Iraq's Sinjar as ISIL advances

World Bulletin / News Desk

Thousands of Iraqis fleeing the town of Sinjar near the city of Mosul after armed groups affiliated with the self-styled Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) seized the town early on Sunday have been reported awaiting to enter Erbil in the Kurdish autonomous region.

Turkmen, Arab and Yazidi families are among those fleeing to Erbil while some Shiite families are planning to migrate to the cities of Baghdad, Karbala and Najaf through Kirkuk province, Anadolu Agency correspondents reported from the scene.

"We had been staying in a school in Sinjar for more than a month. We were under difficult conditions but at least we were safe. When ISIL launched its attacks, we had to flee again," said Ali Huseyin, a Turkmen from the city Tel Afar, which has remained under ISIL control since June.

Kurdish regional government (KRG) in north of Iraq is currently home to around one million displaced Iraqis.

The violence in Iraq has escalated since early June after a coalition of armed insurgent groups led by ISIL took control of large swathes of the country's predominantly Sunni provinces.

Sinjar, which has traditionally been a Yazidi-majority town, had been under Kurdish peshmerga control since the Iraqi army withdrew from the region following ISIL-led militants' advances.

Meanwhile, Kurdish officials deployed new peshmerga forces near the Mosul Dam against the rising ISIL threat, peshmerga officer Naser al-Jariri confirmed to Anadolu Agency on Sunday.

"The peshmerga will not abandon the place at any cost," he said, stressing on the strategic importance of the dam for KRG. He denied earlier reports that insurgents seized control of the dam on early Sunday.

KRG President Massoud Barzani also left for Sinjar on Sunday to monitor the military situation in the town, in which intense clashes reportedly continue between militants and peshmergas.

Halo Penciwini, a Mosul representative of Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) party, told Anadolu Agency on Sunday that Kurdish fighters would shortly launch an offensive to take back the territories recently captured by ISIL.

Separately, many ISIL militants were killed Sunday during army operations in Bazwaya region 15 kilometers east of Mosul, according to security sources.

Peshmerga forces seized control of an ISIL check-post after the clashes, sources said.

Elsewhere in Iraq, seven ISIL militants were killed in the city of Baqubah in Diyala governorate, provincial police chief Jemil al-Shamari told AA.

A rebel vehicle equipped with ammunitions was also destroyed during the operation, he said.

Police authorities in Diyala also said seven Shia militants kidnapped by ISIL had been found dead Sunday.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 04 Ağustos 2014, 09:30