Iraqi Kurds in major offensive against ISIL

Peshmerga forces fighting ISIL near Mosul Dam hope to cut off vital supply lines used by the group.

    Iraqi Kurds in major offensive against ISIL
    Peshmerga forces have succeeded in regaining several towns and villages from ISIL [Getty Images]

    Kurdish Peshmerga forces have launched a major military operation in northwestern Iraq, following recent attempts to push across a frontline near the ISIL stronghold of Tal Afar.

    Hundreds of Peshmerga troops have been deployed along frontlines pushing south from the Mosul Dam on Wednesday, after clearing almost 4km of territory.

    With the help of the US-led coalition, the Peshmerga have been trying to take strategic territory that will cut vital supply lines from the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant group's strongholds in Syria into Iraq.

    Al Jazeera's Zeina Khodr, reporting from near the Mosul Dam, said Peshmerga commanders were confident of the operation, even though they knew it may take some time.

    "The military operation is being carried out jointly with the US coalition. Since the early hours of the morning we have seen coalition planes dropping bombs targeting ISIL positions," she said.

    "Earlier in morning there was no resistance from ISIL, but now ISIL is putting up a fight. They are fighting back and putting up fierce resistance while launching mortars at Peshmerga positions."

    Peshmerga commanders on the ground told Al Jazeera that their aim is to take strategic territory that will cut supply lines vital for ISIL.

    Ethnically diverse area

    Successfully cutting off the supply lines would mean that ISIL would no longer be able to bring in supplies from their stronghold in Syria to the northern Iraqi city of Mosul.

    Al Jazeera's Khodr said there is no intention to push into Tal Afar, which is a heavily populated and ethnically diverse area.

    "Peshmerga forces entering Tal Afar may be seen as an invading force by the local population. There are many Arabs and Turkmen residents in those areas," she said.

    The US-led coalition has launched at least 20 more air strikes against ISIL in Syria and Iraq since Monday.

    In Iraq, nine air strikes hit areas near Sinjar, Kirkuk and Ramadi. Five units of ISIL fighters, several military supply units as well as heavy weaponry were targeted, according to the combined Joint Task Force leading the operations.

    Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al- Abbadi said on Wednesday in an interview with the Associated Press that the international community is not doing enough to help his country win the war against ISIL.

    "We are in this almost on our own," he said. "There is a lot being said and spoken, but very little on the ground."

    He said his country is grateful for the US-led air campaign and that air strikes have been effective.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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