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Dec 19, 2014 12:20 PM

Iraq clashes with IS delay evacuation of Yazidis

The Associated Press

BAGHDAD (AP) Sporadic clashes between Iraqi Kurdish fighters and Islamic State extremists, as well as other logistics problems, are delaying the evacuation of the last Yazidis still trapped on Sinjar mountain, an Iraqi lawmaker said Friday.

Fighting was still underway near the mountain, said lawmaker Mahma Khalil, himself a member of Iraq's minority Yazidis. He also cited the need to plan and prepare for logistics and transportation, as other reasons for the delay.

However, the Kurdish peshmerga fighters were able to ease the plight of the thousands of Yazidis still trapped on Mt. Sinjar and delivered a substantial amount of food and supplies to them.

The delivery was made possible after the peshmerga's battlefield advance on Thursday, when the Kurdish fighters managed to retake some ground lost in the summer to Islamic State militants and opened up a corridor to the mountain.

The development was an incremental step in the battle to retake the town of Sinjar, at the foothills of the mountain by the same name, which fell to the Islamic State group in early August.

The Kurdish peshmerga troops, backed by U.S.-led coalition airstrikes, launched the operation to retake Sinjar on Wednesday.

"The situation of these trapped people is better now, with the fresh supplies and we hope to evacuate them as soon as possible," Khalil told The Associated Press.

The Islamic State group captured large swaths of territory in western and northern Iraq in a blitz earlier this year, plunging the country into its worst crisis since U.S. troops left at the end of 2011.


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