British troops are involved on the frontline with Kurdish forces battling to retake Sinjar in northern Iraq from Islamic State.
US-led coalition airstrikes have been pounding IS-held areas in the town – directed by US and British special forces on the frontline, Kurdish Peshmerga commanders have told Sky News.
The bombardment, which has killed 60-70 IS militants, has paved the way for around 7,500 Kurdish special forces, Peshmerga and Yazidi fighters to descend from Sinjar mountain towards the frontline.
They travelled in a convoy made up of humvees on flatbed trucks, heavy artillery and fighters waving Kurdish flags and brandishing their rifles – winding past abandoned cars and bloodstained clothing on the road many of them had used to flee IS in 2014.
On the frontline, walkie-talkie chatter has picked up militants urging each other to fight to the death and an order given by the local IS emir that anyone “withdrawing from the caliphate” should be shot by their own side.
Reporting from Sinjar, Sky’s Foreign Affairs Editor Sam Kiley said: “This is unprecedented from the Peshmerga, this is the biggest offensive they have launched since the Islamic State attacked them – they are backed all day today with airstrikes being conducted almost continuously.”
Operation Free Sinjar aims to cordon off the town, which sits on the main highway between Mosul and Raqqa – the main IS bastions in Iraq and Syria.
Read more: Sky News