BAGHDAD — Sporadic clashes between Iraqi Kurdish fighters and Islamic State extremists, as well as other logistics problems, are delaying the evacuation of the last Yazidis still trapped on Mt. Sinjar, an Iraqi lawmaker said Friday.
Fighting was still underway near the mountain, said Mahma Khalil, himself a member of Iraq's minority Yazidis. He said the need to plan and prepare for logistics and transportation contributed to the delay.
However, Khalil said Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga fighters were able to ease the plight of the thousands of Yazidis still trapped on Mt. Sinjar and delivered food and supplies to them.
It followed the peshmerga's advances on Thursday, when they managed to retake some ground lost last summer to Islamic State militants and opened up a corridor to the mountain.
The development was an incremental step in the battle to retake the town of Sinjar, at the foothills of the mountain by the same name, which fell to the Islamic State group in early August.
The Kurdish peshmerga troops, backed by U.S.-led coalition airstrikes, launched the operation to retake Sinjar on Wednesday.
"The situation of these trapped people is better now, with the fresh supplies and we hope to evacuate them as soon as possible," Khalil told The Associated Press.
In Syria, Nawaf Khalil, a spokesman for the powerful Kurdish Democratic Union Party, said that Syrian Kurds militiamen also were able to open up another corridor between their region of northeastern Syria and Mt. Sinjar in neighboring Iraq. The Syrian Kurdish fighters also captured nine villages from IS militants, he said.
The Islamic State group captured almost a third of Iraq and Syria earlier this year, plunging the region in deep crisis.
In early August, the militants captured Iraqi towns of Sinjar and Zumar, prompting tens of thousands of Yazidis to flee to the mountain, where they became trapped. Many were eventually airlifted escorted by a passageway through Syria back into Iraq, where they found refuge in Iraq's northern Kurdish semi-autonomous region. But thousands remained stuck on the mountain.
Associated Press writer Bassem Mroue contributed to this report from Beirut.