The operation includes up to 7,500 Peshmergas — the Kurdish military force — who are attacking the city from three sides to take control of supply routes, according to the Kurdish Region Security Council .
CNN senior international correspondent Nick Paton Walsh is with one of the three fronts of fighters who launched their liberation operation early Thursday morning against a backdrop of airstrikes.
The U.S.-backed coalition Operation Inherent Resolve said coalition aircraft have conducted more than 250 airstrikes across northern Iraq in the last month. The strikes have reportedly destroyed ISIS fighting positions, command and control facilities, weapon storage facilities, improvised explosive device factories, and staging areas.
“A pitch-black sky was lit up by a lot of coalition airstrikes following days of bombing. At dawn, a large procession of Peshmerga started snaking their way through Sinjar mountain and behind it,” Paton Walsh said.
The coalition strikes were pounding the strategic city itself, he said, with four different columns of smoke darkening the horizon above: “The strikes on Sinjar almost make the sky over it look black. There’s a vast amount of air power — more intense than the fight for Kobani.”