Kurdish forces recapture ground in Iraq

Kurdish forces backed up by US-led warplanes have recaptured a large area in Iraq near the Syrian border in an offensive against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) jihadists, a top US commander said Dec. 18.

More than 50 air strikes in recent days by coalition aircraft “have resulted in allowing those [Kurdish] forces to manuever and regain approximately 100 square kilometers of ground” near Sinjar, Lieutenant General James Terry, head of the US-led campaign against the ISIL group, told reporters.

Kurdish peshmerga forces said earlier they had captured several villages and were rolling back the ISIL militants around Sinjar in the country’s northwest.

The capture of Sinjar by ISIL jihadists in early August and the plight of the mostly Yazidi minority population there was cited by President Barack Obama as one of the reasons for US military intervention.

US and allied aircraft have carried out 1,361 raids against the ISIL group since bombing began on August 8, Terry said.

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