Military Wiki
Sinjar offensive
Part of the Iraqi insurgency (2011–present), Spillover of the Syrian Civil War, and the American-led intervention in Iraq (2014–present)
Iraqi Civil War map (2014–present).png
Current military situation in Iraq:
  • Gray – ISIL-controlled territory
  • Red – Iraqi-controlled territory
  • Yellow – Kurdish territory
For a more detailed map, see this map.
Date17–21 December 2014
(5 days)
LocationNineveh Province, Iraq

Kurdish Victory

  • The Peshmerga breaks the siege of Mount Sinjar by securing the road connecting Zumar to Mount Sinjar
  • YPG and Peshmerga clear villages north of Mount Sinjar and secure the road that connects Rabia and Mount Sinjar
  • Kurdish forces push into Sinjar on 20 December 2014
  • A total of 1,295–3,000 square kilometers (500–1158 square miles) of mostly desert and highway are recaptured by Kurdish forces[6]


Mlkpbanner.PNG MLKP[1]

Air support:

Other Support:

  •  Germany
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant
Commanders and leaders
Masoud Barzani[7]

Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (Leader)

Abu Ayman al-Iraqi (Head of Military Shura)[8]
8,000 Peshmerga soldiers[7] Unknown
Casualties and losses
Unknown ~400 killed (Peshmerga claim)[9]

The Sinjar offensive was an operation launched by the Peshmerga forces of the Kurdish Regional Government in Iraq on 17 December 2014, to recapture the regions formerly lost to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in their August offensive. Reportedly, Masoud Barzani, the President of Iraqi Kurdistan, personally directed the offensive.[7] The five-day-long offensive began with the aim of breaking the siege of the Sinjar Mountains which had begun in August. Kurdish officials said that the offensive expanded as ISIL militants withdrew to Tell Afar and Mosul.[10]


In August 2014, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant launched an offensive in Northern Iraq and pushed into Kurdish held areas of the Nineveh Province, capturing the city of Sinjar, among others. Some 50,000 Yazidis fled to and remained in the Sinjar Mountains, located to the city's north.[11] By the end of August, the majority of those 50,000 Yazidis had left the mountains, several thousands stayed there.

In October, ISIL conquered more terrain north of the mountains, where still thousands of Yazidis lived.


Peshmerga offensive

Sinjar area offensive

On 17 December 2014, at 7 AM (04.00 GMT), Peshmerga forces launched an offensive on the Sinjar area, backed by US-led coalition airstrikes that had started the night before.[12] About 8,000 Peshmerga forces started advancing westward from Zumar, which had been recaptured by the Peshmerga in October 2014. A total of 45 airstrikes had been conducted by the US-led Coalition by end of the day.[13] The Peshmerga were supported with training and equipment by a British Army training team.[2]

Breaking the Siege of Mount Sinjar

On 18 December, the Peshmerga advanced even farther and managed to recapture a total of 700 square kilometers of territory and open a corridor from Zumar to Mount Sinjar, thus breaking the siege of those mountains. According to a statement from the Kurdish command, large numbers of ISIL militants were fleeing, westward into Syria, and eastward into Mosul.[13] A total of 53 airstrikes had been carried out as of Thursday evening 18 December. According to the U.S. Pentagon, the airstrikes near Sinjar had targeted ISIL storage units, bulldozers, guard towers, vehicles, and three bridges.[14] Kurdish officials said on 19 December that, so far, more than 100 ISIL militants had been killed in this Kurdish Sinjar offensive.[15]

Rabia offensive and closing in on Tal Afar

On 19 December, one day after breaking the Siege of Mount Sinjar, the Peshmerga launched a new offensive from the Rabia border crossing southward to Mount Sinjar. The new offensive was launched at 8 AM (05.00 GMT), with the aim of further clearing the area north of Mount Sinjar.[16] Simultaneously, Peshmerga forces on Mount Sinjar started pushing northward and captured Snuny, located on the road to Rabia.[7] Also, it was reported that the Peshmerga, on a different front, were approaching Tal Afar and had started firing artillery at ISIL positions nearby. Tal Afar, a Turkmen city, is located on the road that connects Sinjar to Mosul and was captured by ISIL in their June offensive.[16]

Entering Sinjar and ending operations

Kurdish forces entered the city of Sinjar on the night of 20 December.[17] On 21 December, 1,500 Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga fighters, backed by local militia units, reportedly drove ISIL from the center of Sinjar.[18] On 22 December, peshmerga took control of much of the town of Sinjar.[19]

The Kurdish advance was stalled afterward, as Kurdish forces faced fierce resistance from ISIL militants inside the city.[18] By the end of the offensive, Kurdish forces had recaptured more than 500 square miles of mostly desert and highway.[10] A few days after Kurdish forces entered Sinjar, a high-ranking Peshmerga commander said in an interview that the push into the town was premature, as retaking Sinjar was not planned to be carried out in this offensive. According to him, some of the Peshmerga entered Sinjar without orders to do so, after seeing ISIL militants on the run.[20]

YPG offensive

The Rojava's army, known as People's Protection Units (YPG), announced on 19 December that they were moving south towards the Iraqi border to reopen a corridor connecting Mount Sinjar to the Syrian border. The YPG had first opened that corridor in August 2014 to relieve tens of thousands of Yazidis stranded on Mount Sinjar.[16] Two days later, the YPG said they had captured three villages on the Syrian side of the border and four villages on the Iraqi side, and that they had successfully reopened the corridor.[21]

Mass graves

A Yazidi shrine; 18 such shrines had been destroyed by ISIL by the end of 2014

On the third day of the offensive, it was reported that a Yazidi mass grave containing 70 bodies had been found.[22] According to Kurdish sources, nine Yazidi mass graves had been found by the end of the offensive. 18 Yazidi shrines have also been destroyed by ISIL militants since June 2014.[23]

ISIL execution of deserters

According to local residents, ISIL executed more than 45 of its own members during this December Kurdish Sinjar offensive, for failing to stand their ground against the Kurdish forces.[17] The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) claimed that ISIL in December 2014 had, in total, killed 200 of its own fighters for fleeing the battlefield.[24] In March 2015, ISIL again executed 18 of its own fighters in northern Iraq, now amid accusations that the men texted the Kurdish enemy and planned on surrendering, SOHR reported.[24]

See also


  1. "MLKP fighter: We will be at the front until Sinjar is liberated". Firat News Agency. 29 December 2014. Retrieved 11 February 2015. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 "RAF air strikes in Iraq: December 2014". 22 January 2015. 
  3. "Jihadists in retreat as Iraqi Kurds retake Mt Sinjar". 21 December 2014. 
  4. "Operation IMPACT – Air Task Force-Iraq airstrikes". Retrieved 4 February 2015. 
  5. "Department of Defence – Air Force". Retrieved 4 February 2015. 
  6. "Kurdish Sinjar offensive too late for some Yazidis". Al-Monitor. Retrieved 22 December 2014. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 "Iraqi Kurds claim more territory after breaking siege of Sinjar". Trust. Retrieved 19 December 2014. 
  8. "Military Skill and Terrorist Technique Fuel Success of ISIS". New York Times. 27 August 2014. Retrieved 21 October 2014. 
  9. "ISIL Casualties in Shingal Revealed". Bas News. Retrieved 22 December 2014. 
  10. 10.0 10.1 "Islamic State counterattacks refinery as fight for Iraq swings back and forth". McClatchy DC. Retrieved 22 December 2014. 
  11. "An Early Success for the Kurds in Sinjar". The New Yorker. Retrieved 19 December 2014. 
  12. "Kurdish peshmerga forces launch offensive to retake Isis held areas". The Guardian. 17 December 2014. Retrieved 18 April 2015. 
  13. 13.0 13.1 "Isis latest: Kurdish forces 'break' the siege of Mount Sinjar". The Independent. Retrieved 19 December 2014. 
  14. "Backed by U.S. Airstrikes, Kurds Reverse an ISIS Gain". The New York Times. Retrieved 18 December 2014. 
  15. "Kurdish pershmerga forces prepare escape route for Yazidis trapped on Sinjar". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 December 2014. 
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 [dead link] "Kurds press Sinjar operation in north Iraq". Gulf News. Retrieved 20 December 2014. 
  17. 17.0 17.1 "Iraq's Kurds press offensive against Islamic State in Sinjar". DPA International. Retrieved 21 December 2014. 
  18. 18.0 18.1 "Iraqi Kurds Advance Against Islamic State in Sinjar". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 21 December 2014. 
  19. "Islamic State counterattacks refinery as fight for Iraq swings back and forth". McClatchy DC. 22 December 2014. Retrieved 24 March 2015. 
  20. "Interview with Sheikh Jafar Mustafa". Bas News. Retrieved 25 December 2014. 
  21. "Kurdish fighters move on ISIL's Mosul hub". Aljazeera. Retrieved 21 December 2014. 
  22. "Ezidi mass grave found in northern Iraq". Anadolu Agency. Retrieved 20 December 2014. 
  23. "Nine mass graves of Iraq's Yezidis found in Sinjar, official says". DPA News. Retrieved 30 December 2014. 
  24. 24.0 24.1 ‘ISIS Executes Own Fighters For Allegedly Texting Kurds To Surrender In Ongoing Islamic State Battle For Iraq’. SOHR website, 21 March 2015. Retrieved 28 March 2015

External links

This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors).