AFP file photo of a fighter from Amerli guarding a road to the town.
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Kurdish and Iraqi forces fighting to lift a two-month siege of Amerli by the Islamic State (IS/ISIS) were swiftly advancing on the Shiite Turkmen town on Sunday and had the militants on retreat.
The joint, three-pronged advance toward Amerli began Saturday, and was backed by US airstrikes on the outskirts of the town on Sunday.
IS armies have surrounded Amerli for the past two months, cutting off the estimated 20,000 population from food, water and electricity. Reports from inside paint a shocking picture of a slowly starving population.
A Rudaw correspondent on the frontlines reported that Peshmerga forces had gained control of Ghamas, Habash and Khasadani, three strategic villages surrounding Amerli, and that the militants were in swift retreat.
“Peshmerga forces and the Iraqi army, alongside volunteer Shiites, are advancing towards Amerli to fight the IS militants,” said Major Faruq Ahmed, the Asayesh (security) director in the town of Tuz Khurmatu.
“They are attacking from multiple positions, from Kifre to Uzzaim,” he said.
“Peshmarga are making progress in between Khurmatu and Tikrit (140 kilometers northwest of Baghdad) to also liberate the area that has been controlled by ISIS for over two months,” Ahmed said.
He added that the village of Suleiman Beg, as well as the Kirkuk-Baghdad highway, were still not liberated.
Mahdi Taqyyedin, from the the Amerli municipality, also reported US air drops of humanitarian aid. “US planes have been dropping aid to the Amerli citizens, which is relieving their suffering somewhat.”