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Iraqi fighters battle IS for town

Iraqi Kurdish fighters, backed by US-led coalition airstrikes against the Islamic State (IS) group, pushed their way today into the town of Sinjar, captured by the Sunni militants last summer.

Further to the east, near the border with Syria, Iraqi security forces battled the IS extremists as they tried to retake the strategic military airport of Tal Afar.

The battle for Sinjar and the surrounding area has become the latest focus in the campaign to take back territory lost to IS during the militants' summer blitz.

Last week, the Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga fighters launched the operation to retake Sinjar and opened up a passageway to Mt Sinjar, which overlooks the town.

The development was an incremental step and helped evacuate some of the thousands of Yazidis trapped on the mountain following the town's fall in August.

Loud explosions and intense gun battles were heard from inside the town today as coalition aircraft bombed IS targets.

Jabbar Yawar, spokesman for the Kurdish forces, said the fighters were facing resistance from pockets of IS militants still inside the town and that it is "far from cleared".

He declined to provide more details on the going operation.

Meanwhile, Iraqi counter-terrorism forces launched an offensive yesterday to retake the military airport near the town of Tal Afar from IS.

Tal Afar is a mixed Shiite-Sunni city of some 200,000 located strategically near the Syrian border to the east of Sinjar.


From Belfast Telegraph