Via the New York Times:
A ground offensive backed by American air power to retake the western Iraqi town of Sinjar from Islamic State fighters began early Thursday, according to a Kurdish official. The objective was to cut a major jihadist supply line between Syria and the Iraqi city of Mosul.
A statement from the security council of the Kurdish autonomous region in Iraq said that up to 7,500 Kurdish pesh merga fighters were moving on “three fronts to cordon off Sinjar City, take control of ISIL’s strategic supply routes, and establish a significant buffer zone to protect the city and its inhabitants from incoming artillery.” ISIL is an acronym for the Islamic State.
“Coalition warplanes will provide close air support to pesh merga forces throughout the operation,” the statement said.
As the campaign got underway, long columns of pesh merga vehicles, including pickup trucks, sport utility vehicles and a small number of armored vehicles snaked their way across Mount Sinjar as the airstrikes boomed in the distance.
The good news is that this is finally happening. The bad news is that it took so long:
Tactically, preparations for the Sinjar offensive have been underway for weeks, and the Islamic State appears to have anticipated the assault and has been sending reinforcements, General Waisi said.
With more than a year to dig in, the militants are also believed to have fortified their positions and made plans for a counterstrike.
It is difficult for even the casual observer to see how significant progress can be made with the “airstrikes only” involvement from the United States. More and more it seems that President Obama wants to do just enough to make it a mess he can leave for his successor.