Peshmerga, Backed by PKK, Retakes Sinjar From ISIS

Few Casualties as ISIS Largely Abandons Town

The Kurdish Peshmerga, backed by fighters from the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), succeeded in retaking the Yazidi town of Sinjar in northwestern Iraq, capping a 7,500 man offensive in the region and taking control of a stretch of highway between ISIS city of Mosul and its territory in Syria.

German filmmaker Carsten Stormer, embedded with the PKK fighters, reported no resistance from the ISIS fighters, saying he saw only one dead ISIS fighters in his whole time following the fighters into the city. He added that the PKK “arrived first” in Sinjar. PKK leaders said they got their “four hours before the peshmerga.”

While the highway is of some strategic value to ISIS, the main victory here is a symbolic one, as Sinjar and the Yazidis have been a major talking point for factions agitating for war against ISIS, and recovering the town for the Yazidis can be hyped as a much bigger dealĀ  than most towns of 70,000-80,000 people would be.

The high-profile role the PKK played in the recovery of the town however may be an even bigger problem for the Peshmerga, as the PKK are in the middle of an increasingly bloody war with Turkey, and the Turkish military has been bombing PKK targets in northern Iraq already, potentially making the PKK forces in and around Sinjar another target for Turkish airstrikes.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.