Kurdish forces backed by heavy U.S. bombing say they have broken the siege of northern Iraq's Sinjar Mountain area and started to evacuate those refugees who were still on the mountain.
Chancellor of the Kurdistan regional Security Council Masrur Barzani on December 19 said the operation "was concluded very successfully."
Reports said vehicles were taking refugees, mainly members of the Yazidi religious community, to the town of Dohuk, located well inside Kurdistan.
The refugees sought shelter on Sinjar Mountain in August when Islamic State militants captured the region, executing non-Muslims and taking women, girls, and boys captive.
Meanwhile, the Pentagon announced late on December 18 that recent air strikes by the United States and its allies had killed "multiple" senior and mid-level IS leaders.
Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby said the loss of the leaders "degrades" the ability of the IS to "command and control current operations."
Based on reporting by BBC and dpa