Kurdish offensive against IS

Kurdish forces in northern Iraq have launched an offensive to retake Sinjar, the strategic town near the Syrian border, from Islamic State (IS) jihadists. The offensive is supported by air strikes by the US-led coalition.

Recapturing Sinjar would effectively cut off the supply line between the IS strongholds of Raqqa in Syria and Mosul in Iraq.

When the town fell to IS last year, tens of thousands of people from the Yazidi religious minority were trapped after fleeing up Mount Sinjar.

Hundreds of men were killed and thousands of Yazidi women and girls captured and used as sex slaves.

The attack on Sinjar was one of the reasons the US began air strikes against IS positions in Iraq in August 2014, amid a warning of genocide.

It expanded its air campaign into Syria the following month.

Yazidis, whose religion includes elements of several faiths, are considered infidels and satanists by IS.