This is a true Christmas Miracle! Something wonderfull has happened to people who truly deserve it.
Kurdish Peshmerga fighters claimed to take control Saturday of Sinjar, the northern Iraqi town that ISIS militants stormed this summer causing minority Yazidis to flee into nearby mountains and spawning a humanitarian crisis.
The Kurdistan Region Security Council (KRSC) said on Twitter that its forces entered Sinjar district around 1:45 p.m.(9:45 a.m. ET) and, just over an hour later, “succeeded in taking complete control of it & nearby villages.” The message ended “#Shingal #Kurds.” Shingal is another name for Sinjar.
The advance is the latest in recent days by Kurdish forces against ISIS, which has been blamed for atrocities around the area for its treatment of those by any who resist or don’t subscribe to its extremist Islamist beliefs.
And few, if any, have gotten worse treatment than the Yazidis — one of the world’s smallest and oldest monotheistic religious minority groups. Yazidis, most of whom are ethnic Kurds, revere an angel figure that some Muslims believe to be the devil.
Kurdish Peshmerga fighters assemble at a shrine on Iraq’s Mount Sinjar on Friday, December 19. The Kurdish military said that with the help of coalition airstrikes, it has “cleansed” the area of ISIS militants. ISIS has been advancing in Iraq and Syria as it seeks to create an Islamic caliphate in the region.
A Peshmerga fighter looks down at the body of an alleged ISIS fighter in Zummar, Iraq, on Thursday, December 18.
A Kurdish fighter stands next to a destroyed armored vehicle in northern Iraq on December 18. The vehicle was destroyed by an improvised explosive device placed by ISIS militants.
Peshmerga fighters stop to check a vehicle in Zummar on December 18 as they continue to battle ISIS fighters near the border with Syria.
Pro-Iraqi government forces guard a shrine in Balad, Iraq, on Monday, December 15.
A Yazidi woman displaced by ISIS militants tends to a fire Wednesday, December 10, at a shelter in Dohuk, Iraq.
A Kurdish child from the Kobani, Syria, area holds laundry at a refugee camp in Suruc, Turkey, on Monday, November 17. Tens of thousands of people have fled Kobani, known in Arabic as Ayn al-Arab, to escape ISIS.
Smoke rises from Kobani following airstrikes on November 17. The United States and several Arab nations have been bombing ISIS targets to take out the group’s ability to command, train and resupply its fighters.
A Kurdish child from the Kobani area holds on to a fence at a refugee camp in Suruc on Sunday, November 16.
People in Suruc watch smoke rise near the Syrian border during clashes between ISIS members and armed groups on Thursday, November 13.
A bomb (upper left) falls on an ISIS position in Kobani during an airstrike by the U.S.-led coalition on Saturday, November 8.
Iraqi military forces take up position in Jurf al-Sakhar, Iraq, on November 8.
Fire and smoke rise from Kobani following airstrikes against ISIS on Thursday, October 30.
Iraqi special forces search a house in Jurf al-Sakhar on October 30 after retaking the area from ISIS.
Smoke rises during fighting in Kobani on Monday, October 27.
ISIS militants stand near the site of an airstrike near the Turkey-Syria border on Thursday, October 23.
An explosion rocks Kobani during a reported car-bomb attack by ISIS militants on Monday, October 20.
People watch Kobani from a hill near the Turkey-Syria border on October 20.
Kurdish fighters walk to positions as they fight ISIS forces in Kobani on Sunday, October 19.
A U.S. Air Force plane flies above Kobani on Saturday, October 18.
Heavy smoke rises in Kobani following an airstrike by the U.S.-led coalition on Saturday, October 18.
Cundi Minaz, a female Kurdish fighter, is buried in a cemetery in the southeastern Turkish town of Suruc on Tuesday, October 14. Minaz was reportedly killed during clashes with ISIS militants in nearby Kobani.
Turkish police officers secure a basketball stadium in Suruc on October 14. Some Syrian Kurds have been held there since crossing from Syria into Turkey.
Kiymet Ergun, a Syrian Kurd, celebrates in Mursitpinar, Turkey, after an airstrike by the U.S.-led coalition in Kobani on Monday, October 13.
Smoke rises from Kobani on Sunday, October 12.
Syrian Kurds from Kobani stand outside the grounds of a refugee camp in Suruc on Saturday, October 11.
Alleged ISIS militants stand next to an ISIS flag atop a hill in Kobani on Monday, October 6.
In this photo released by the U.S. Air Force on Saturday, October 4, a U.S. Navy jet is refueled in Iraqi airspace after conducting an airstrike against ISIS militants.
A Kurdish Peshmerga soldier who was wounded in a battle with ISIS is wheeled to the Zakho Emergency Hospital in Duhuk on Tuesday, September 30.
Iraqi Shiite militiamen aim their weapons during clashes with ISIS militants in Jurf al-Sakhar on Sunday, September 28.
Syrian Kurds wait near a border crossing in Suruc as they wait to return to their homes in Kobani on Sunday, September 28.
Syrian Kurds wait behind border fences to cross into Suruc on September 28.
Tomahawk missiles, intended for ISIS targets in Syria, fly above the Persian Gulf after being fired by the USS Philippine Sea in this image released by the U.S. Navy on Tuesday, September 23.
Turkish Kurds clash with Turkish security forces during a protest near Suruc on Monday, September 22. According to Time magazine, the protests were over Turkey’s temporary decision to close the border with Syria.
Syrian Kurds fleeing ISIS militants wait behind a fence in Suruc on Sunday, September 21.
A elderly man is carried after crossing the Syria-Turkey border near Suruc on Saturday, September 20.
A Kurdish Peshmerga fighter launches mortar shells toward ISIS militants in Zummar on Monday, September 15.
An ISIS flag flies on the other side of a bridge at the front line of fighting between ISIS and Kurdish Peshmerga fighters in Rashad, Iraq, on Thursday, September 11.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry reads on a flight en route to Iraq on Wednesday, September 10. Kerry traveled to the Mideast to discuss ways to bolster the stability of the new Iraqi government and combat ISIS.
Kurdish Peshmerga fighters fire at ISIS militant positions from their position on the top of Mount Zardak, east of Mosul, Iraq, on Tuesday, September 9.
An Iraqi fighter jet flies over Amerli, Iraq, on September 3. Amerli had been under siege by ISIS militants.
Iraqi volunteer fighters celebrate breaking the Amerli siege on Monday, September 1. ISIS militants had surrounded Amerli, 70 miles north of Baquba, Iraq, since mid-June.
Kurdish Peshmerga forces stand guard at their position in the Omar Khaled village west of Mosul on Sunday, August 24.
Kurdish Peshmergas fight to regain control of the town of Celavle, in Iraq’s Diyala province, on August 24.
Peshmerga fighters stand guard at Mosul Dam in northern Iraq on Thursday, August 21. With the help of U.S. military airstrikes, Kurdish and Iraqi forces retook the dam from ISIS militants on August 18. A breach of the dam would have been catastrophic for millions of Iraqis who live downstream from it.
Displaced Iraqis receive clothes from a charity at a refugee camp near Feeshkhabour, Iraq, on Tuesday, August 19.
A fighter with Kurdish Peshmerga forces battles ISIS militants near Mosul on Monday, August 18.
Peshmerga fighters inspect the remains of a car that reportedly belonged to ISIS militants and was targeted by a U.S. airstrike in the village of Baqufa, north of Mosul, on August 18.
Kurdish Peshmerga fighters fire at ISIS in Khazair, Iraq, on Thursday, August 14.
Volunteers of the Iraqi Red Crescent Society unload boxes of goods before distributing them August 14 to families who fled from ISIS.
From the flight deck of the USS George H.W. Bush, which is in the Persian Gulf, two U.S. fighter jets take off for a mission in Iraq on Monday, August 11. U.S. President Barack Obama authorized airstrikes against Islamic militants and food drops for Iraqis who are trapped by the militants.
Aziza Hamid, a 15-year-old Iraqi girl, cries for her father while she and some other Yazidi people are flown to safety Monday, August 11, after a dramatic rescue operation at Iraq’s Mount Sinjar. A CNN crew was on the flight, which took diapers, milk, water and food to the site where as many as 70,000 people were trapped by ISIS. But only a few of them were able to fly back on the helicopter with the Iraqi Air Force and Kurdish Peshmerga fighters.
Thousands of Yazidis are escorted to safety by Kurdish Peshmerga forces and a People’s Protection Unit in Mosul on Saturday, August 9.
Iraqi Shiite volunteers who have joined government forces to fight ISIS take part in a training session near Basra, Iraq, on Thursday, August 7.
Thousands of Yazidi and Christian people flee Mosul on Wednesday, August 6, after the latest wave of ISIS advances.
A Baiji oil refinery burns after an alleged ISIS attack in northern Selahaddin, Iraq, on Thursday, July 31.
A Syrian rebel fighter lies on a stretcher at a makeshift hospital in Douma, Syria, on Wednesday, July 9. He was reportedly injured while fighting ISIS militants.
Iraqis who fled fighting in the cities of Mosul and Tal Afar try to enter a temporary displacement camp in Khazair on Wednesday, July 2.
Peshmerga fighters check cars at the entrance of a temporary displacement camp in Khazair on Thursday, June 26.
Kurdish Peshmerga take their positions behind a wall on the front line of the conflict with ISIS militants in Tuz Khormato, Iraq, on Wednesday, June 25.
Peshmerga fighters clean their weapons at a base in Tuz Khormato on June 25.
New army recruits gather in Najaf, Iraq, on Wednesday, June 18, following a call for Iraqis to take up arms against Islamic militant fighters.
An MH-60R Sea Hawk helicopter lands on the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush in the Persian Gulf on Tuesday, June 17.
Newly recruited Iraqi volunteer fighters take part in a training session in Karbala, Iraq, on June 17.
Members of ISIS prepare to execute soldiers from Iraq’s security forces in this image, one of many reportedly posted by the militant group online. CNN cannot independently confirm the authenticity of the images.
Iraqi men chant slogans outside of an army recruiting center to volunteer for military service Thursday, June 12, in Baghdad.
Kurdish Peshmerga forces, along with Iraqi special forces, deploy their troops and armored vehicles outside of Kirkuk, Iraq, on June 12.
Children stand next to a burnt vehicle during clashes between Iraqi security forces and ISIS militants in Mosul on Tuesday, June 10.
Civilians from Mosul escape to a refugee camp near Irbil, Iraq, on June 10.
Photos: The ISIS terror threat
Village massacre near Sinjar by ISIS
Last summer, ISIS slaughtered Yazidis by the hundreds, according to Vian Dakhil, the only lawmaker representing the Yazidis in Iraq’s Parliament. Women in the group were “treated like cattle,” Kurdish Regional Government adviser Nazand Begikhani said. Many were enslaved, raped and sold by ISIS.
The town of Sinjar became central to this drama, when Yazidi residents ran for their lives to Sinjar Mountain, just to the north.
But they had very little food, medical care or water, shortages compounded by Iraq’s intense summer heat.
Their dire situation, as well as the harsh treatment they got from ISIS simply due to their religious beliefs, spurred an international coalition to act.
This effort began with the airdrop of supplies to Sinjar Mountain. Rescues came next. And now, the U.S.-led coalition is waging regular airstrikes targeting ISIS in Iraq and neighboring Syria — an air campaign that helped pave the way for the recapture of Sinjar.
Fight over Sinjar Mountain, surrounding area
This summer’s combination of humanitarian and military efforts helped, as thousands of Yazidis fled on foot to Syria.
Still, a few hundred remained on Sinjar Mountain. And ISIS never really went away.
In fact, the tug-of-war in the region has continued for months — prompting a fresh allied onslaught in recent days.
Tuesday night, coalition aircraft conducted 48 airstrikes near Sinjar — the heaviest concentration of such airstrikes to date, according to two U.S. defense officials.
Masrour Barzani, chancellor of the KRSC, said Thursday this ground-and-air operation helped “open … a corridor from south of Zummar to the Mountain Sinjar,” giving direct access to those displaced on the mountain and in need of aid.
ISIS fighters, meanwhile, fled toward the Syrian border and ISIS strongholds such as Mosul and Tal Afar, the Kurdish agency said.
Kurdish agency: ‘Morale remains high’
The Peshmerga are keeping up the heat.
A press release Saturday from the Kurdistan Region Security Council indicated these fighters launched a new phase of the offensive around 8 a.m. (midnight ET) south of Rabia to Sinjar Mountain.
Three hours later, the KRSC claimed its forces had taken “complete control of Mushrefa” but that they weren’t done.
“The objective is to surround and clear an area of approximately 2,100 square kilometers (810 square miles),” the Kurdish agency said.
Meanwhile, humanitarian aid — in the form of 32 truckloads of food, water and other needed aid — began rolling out Saturday morning from Irbil, bound for Sinjar Mountain, the KRSC reported.
“Morale remains high as the Peshmerga continue to make advances on both fronts (north and south of Sinjar Mountain),” the Kurdish agency said.