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Kurdish Forces Say Break Siege Of Sinjar

Aftermath Of Battles Between Kurdish Forces And IS In Iraq
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WATCH: Kurdish forces backed by U.S. bombing have broken the siege of northern Iraq's Sinjar Mountain area, where minority Yazidis sought refuge from an Islamic State offensive. Officials say refugees are beginning to evacuate from Sinjar Mountain to Dohuk in the Kurdistan region. Video from December 18 shows the aftermath of clashes between Kurdish Peshmerga fighters and Islamic State militants in the region. (Abdul-Khaliq Sultan, RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq)

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