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Image: picture-alliance/Omar Alkalout

Kurdish forces on the offensive

August 6, 2014

Iraq's Kurdish fighters have said their tactics for fighting 'Islamic State' militants has gone from "being defensive to being offensive." Meanwhile, the UN has condemnded attacks on minority Yazidis.


Jabbar Yawar, secretary-general of the ministry of the Kurdish peshmerga fighters, told the Reuters news agency Wednesday that his organization had changed its tactics from "being defensive to being offensive." He said Kurdish troops are now clashing with "Islamic State" (IS) in the Kurd city of Makhmur in northern Iraq.

On Monday, the Iraqi military agreed to provide support for Kurdish fighters seeking to stop IS group, formerly known as ISIS. On Tuesday, the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) - which for years waged a deadly insurgency against Turkish authorities - called on all Kurdish armed groups to get united against the IS threat.

"Our efforts alone are not enough. There must be a joint effort against the IS," the PKK's military leader, Murat Karayilan, was quoted by AFP as saying. Senior Iraqi Kurdish official Hallo Penjweny said Wednesday that the fighters of the PKK and the Syrian Democratic Union Party had been involved in operations against IS in the Sinjar area.

Over the weekend, Kurdish troops lost control of the towns of Sinjar and Zumar in the partially autonomous Kurdish authority in northern Iraq to IS fighters, as the Sunni militants advanced and claimed a fifth oil field to help fund their operations.

IS has captured large parts of territory in the west and north of Iraq in recent weeks, putting severe pressure on Nuri al-Maliki's central government in Baghdad.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu spoke on the phone with president of Iraq's Kurdistan region, Massud Barzani, to discuss "the current situation in Iraq," reported AFP on Wednesday.

"We continue our consultations with all parties for stability in Iraq," Davutoglu wrote on his Twitter account.

The plight of the Yazidis

Meanwhile, around 50,000 members of Iraq's minority Yazidi community are still stranded on a mountain near Sinjar where they fled Sunday during the IS offensive.

Yawar said the Yazidis - an ethnic group with roots in Zoroastrianism - risked starving to death if they were not rescued soon.

The United Nations Security Council on Tuesday condemned the systematic attacks on Yazidis "in the strongest terms."

"Many of these Iraqis have been displaced or forced to flee and seek refuge, while many others have been executed and kidnapped," the body said in a statement.

shs/hc (Reuters, AFP)

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