The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’s weeks-long siege of northwestern Mount Sinjar was broken Thursday after a successful operation of Iraqi Peshmerga, a top Kurdish security official said.
Mount Sinjar was in the news recently when around 100,000 people, mostly belonging to Iraqi minority communities, fled to the area to escape the ISIL mayhem.
"Peshmerga forces launched an operation Wednesday to rescue our people who have been trapped on Mt. Sinjar. I have just been informed that the operation has been successful," Masrour Barzani, the chancellor of the Kurdistan Regional Security Council, told reporters at an operations' center near the Iraq-Syria border.
Barzani added that the siege was broken with the backing of the U.S.-led international coalition.
A statement from Barzani's office said that around 8,000 Peshmerga participated in the operation, which began with international coalition airstrikes followed by a ground assault.
According to the statement, Peshmerga forces recaptured 700 square kilometers (270 square miles) of ISIL-held territory between Zummar and Mt. Sinjar, a corridor which "enabled the Peshmerga to gain direct access to the displaced people trapped on Mt. Sinjar, to provide humanitarian support and evacuation where necessary."
It said the Peshmerga forces surrounded an additional 2,100 square kilometers (810.8 square miles) of ISIL-held territory, in addition to 1,000 square kilometers (386 square miles) captured from the group in previous offensives at AynFarras, Rabiah and Zummar.
"This operation represents the single biggest military offensive against ISIL and the most successful. In addition to suffering heavy casualties, ISIL's morale has suffered a devastating blow," it added.
A large number of ISIL fighters have fled towards the Syrian border and ISIL strongholds such as Tal Afar and Mosul, it added.
“This is a war that the Peshmerga is fighting on behalf of the world to protect the principles of democracy, co-existence and respect for human rights," Barzani said.
"Peshmerga are proud to be a major partner in the international coalition and will continue to fight against terrorism," he added.