human rights watch

tisdag 30 september 2014

Kurdish Forces Retake Key Syrian Border Town

Kurdish Forces Retake Key Syrian Border Town
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Peshmerga officials reported on Tuesday that Kurdish forces retook the strategic border town of Rabia from Islamic State forces who seized the area in late July.

Peshmerga commander Shiekh Ahmad Mohammad told Rudaw: “Rabia is under the control of Kurdish forces. We are leaving their bodies behind and picking up their abandoned weapons.”

He said clashes began at 5am on the outskirts of Rabia, which is close to the Syrian border.

In what appeared to be a multi-pronged offensive against the jihadist militants, who seized Iraq’s second largest city of Mosul in mid-June, officials also reported heavy fighting south of Kirkuk and at Zumar, near the strategic Mosul dam.

The capture of Rabia would be the most significant setback for IS forces in northern Iraq since the launch of U.S. and allied air strike earlier this month.

Commander Mohammad said: “Rabia will help us to retake Zumar and Sinjar.” Sinjar – or Shingal – is the town from which thousands of minority Yezidis fled to nearby mountains in the face of an IS onslaught in early August.

Peshmerga sources earlier told Rudaw that large numbers of ISIS forces had withdrawn from the Shingal region, south of Rabia, on Monday and headed to the Syrian border.

“Around sunset a convoy of about 30 IS vehicles left the area and drove towards the Syrian border,” said Haji Ibrahim, a veteran Yezidi Peshmerga.

On other fronts, south of Kirkuk, six Peshmerga were injured by roadside bombs planted in the Daqquq district. Peshmerga have reported that IS have been planted such devices in every area where they have withdrawn.

An officer said the Kurdish fighters had retaken the village of al-Wahda, around 30km south of Kirkuk, after beating off stiff resistance.

Rudaw correspondent Suleiman Ali Khan, reporting from the outskirts of Rabia, said: “The Peshmerga have looked exhausted in other fights, but this time we see high morale fighting IS

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