The Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq have seized parts of the main highway into the ISIS city of Mosul from Syria, part of an offensive in which 7,500 Peshmerga fighters aim to retake Sinjar City, a Yazidi town which has mostly been under ISIS control for over a year.
Kurdish forces have launched several offensives against Sinjar over the past year, always backed by US airstrikes. The previous offensives have tended to stop short with a few gains or get sidetracked into advancing against other areas. This is by far the largest Peshmerga offensive yet, however, and the Kurds are predicting an easy victory.
Reports are that the US airstrikes backing this current offensive are being called in directly by US special forces on the ground, though the Pentagon insists that the troops in question are being kept well away from the fighting itself.
Sinjar’s location, due west of Mosul, puts it right in the heart of ISIS territory, and along the main highway linking ISIS’ vast Syrian possessions with its territory in Nineveh. Though taking the city would be a major victory for the Peshmerga, ISIS seems unlikely to cede control of the important supply route.