Iraq crisis: Shia and Kurdish forces move against IS

10:00 | 02.09.2014
Iraq crisis: Shia and Kurdish forces move against IS

Iraq crisis: Shia and Kurdish forces move against IS

Iraqi Shia militias and Kurdish forces are continuing their advance against Islamic State militants after breaking the siege of Amerli in northern Iraq.

A BBC team entered the town on Monday, finding residents who had endured more than two months under siege.

The joint forces have also seized the militant stronghold of Suleiman Beg.

Meanwhile Amnesty International says that it has uncovered new evidence that Islamic State have launched a campaign of ethnic cleansing in the north.

"The Islamic State (IS) is carrying out despicable crimes and has transformed rural areas of [the northern region of] Sinjar into blood-soaked killing fields in its brutal campaign to obliterate all trace of non-Arabs and non-Sunni Muslims," Amnesty's Donatella Rovera said.

The UN is sending a team to Iraq to investigate "acts of inhumanity on an unimaginable scale".

Violence in Iraq has escalated dramatically in recent months as IS, formerly known as Isis, and allied Sunni rebels have taken control of large parts of northern and western Iraq.

Thousands of people have been killed, the majority of them civilians, and more than a million have been forced to flee their homes.

Crosshead here

Residents in Amerli were threatened with a massacre after resisting IS. The BBC's Gabriel Gatehouse, who entered the town on Monday, found residents happy to be reunited with their families.

They told him there was a huge amount of work to do to get back to normal.

Our correspondent says there are still pockets of IS resistance in the area, meaning that travel to the town remains problematic.

Outgoing Prime Minister Nouri Maliki, who visited Amerli on Monday, said: "Our enemy is retreating and our security forces backed by volunteers are advancing to purge further towns."

Correspondents say the recent advances are the biggest success by Iraqi and Kurdish forces against IS in recent months.

'Iranian help'

Kurdish peshmerga forces raised their flag in the town of Suleiman Beg on Monday.

AFP news agency reported that nearby Yankaja was also surrounded, and that militants there were being bombarded with artillery and machine-gun fire.

(BBC News)


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