Kurdish forces have launched an operation to take back the strategic town of Sinjar from the self-proclaimed Islamic State, or ISIL.
Lying close to the Syrian border in northern Iraq, the town was overrun by the militant group more than a year ago, triggering US-led air strikes in the region.
The successful capture of Sinjar would cut off supply lines between the ISIL strongholds of Raqqa in Syria and Mosul in Iraq, with the aim of establishing a buffer zone to protect the town from further artillery fire.
ISIL considers the local Yazidi religious minority infidels and thousands were killed, enslaved or forced to flee when the town was taken over.
Yazidi fighters are among the 7,500 troops involved in the ground operation in Sinjar, with back-up support from a US-led air offensive.