ERBIL, Iraq - Kurdish forces are massing in northwest Iraq for an offensive to retake the town of Sinjar from Islamic State fighters who overran it more than a year ago, killing and enslaving thousands of its Yazidi residents and triggering US-led air strikes.
Sinjar is a symbolic and strategic prize sitting astride the main highway linking the cities of Mosul and Raqqa - Islamic State's bastions in Iraq and Syria.
In December 2014, Kurdish forces drove Islamic State from north of Sinjar mountain, a craggy strip some 60 km. long, but the radical Sunni insurgents maintain control of the southern side where the town is located.
Villagers along a main road to the mountain reported seeing dozens of military transport vehicles packed with Kurdish peshmerga fighters pass in recent days.
Peshmerga officials declined to comment on the operation, but a Kurdish security source said it would begin once the weather improved and intelligence-gathering had been completed.