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Sulaimaniyah (Iraq) (AFP) – Iraq’s Kurdish peshmerga forces are coordinating a counter-offensive against jihadists around the Iraqi city of Mosul with Kurdish fighters from Syria and Turkey, a political leader said on Wednesday.

Senior Iraqi Kurdish official Hallo Penjweny acknowledged that fighters from the Turkish PKK group and the Syrian PYD were leading operations against the Islamic State in the Sinjar area, while Iraqi peshmerga were trying to secure areas north and east of Mosul.

“The fighters of West Kurdistan and the PKK are responsible for confronting Daash (Islamic State) in Rabia and the Sinjar area,” said Penjweny, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan party’s top official for the Mosul region.

“On our side, we are taking care of Zumar and the rest of the area north and east of Mosul,” he told reporters.

Sinjar is west of Mosul, the second city in Iraq and the Islamic State’s main hub in the country.

Jihadist fighters ousted the peshmerga there on Sunday, sparking the exodus of thousands of civilians, many of whom are now hiding in nearby mountains and facing serious shortages of food and water.

Zumar is a town north of Mosul the jihadists seized a day earlier. Their offensive dealt a blow to the peshmerga, who have been complaining of a lack of ammunition.

“The PKK fighters have reached the Jabal Sinjar area, where they are protecting the Sinjaris from attacks” by jihadist fighters, Penjweny said.

It was not immediately clear whether the Syrian and Turkish fighters had reclaimed control of the town of Sinjar, or even part of it.

AFP Photo/Rick Findler

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