Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 26 November 2020

Region in focus - The recapture of Sinjar

Aided by US air strikes, the predominantly Kurdish regions of northern Syria and Iraq have become bastions in the fight against the Islamic State.

On November 13, Kurdish forces, backed by the Yazidi Sinjar Alliance, PKK and YPG fighters, launched an offensive to drive the extremists from Sinjar. ISIL had captured the city in August 2014 and subsequently carried out the Sinjar massacre, killing hundreds of Yazidi civilians. This led to the mass exodus of residents, who were branded by the ISIL as “devil worshippers”.

The first offensive to retake the city from ISIL militants took place on the night of December 20 2014, but on that occasion, the Kurdish advance was stalled as it faced fierce resistance from ISIL militants inside the southern half of the city. On November 13, a day after launching a major second offensive, Kurdish forces, backed by their allies and US airstrikes, entered the city and fully regained control from ISIL. Following the recapture, in the nearby hamlet of Solagh, east of Sinjar city, Kurdish forces found a mass grave with the remains of at least 78 Yazidi women believed to be executed by ISIL militants.

In recent days, local Yazidi fighters who fought alongside Kurdish forces have been searching for any salvageable items in amongst the rubble, as the city, being perilously close to the front line and in such a state of ruin, has been rendered uninhabitable.

Photography by John Moore for Getty Images

Updated: November 18, 2015 04:00 AM