Yazidi ‘mass grave’ found in northern Iraq
Islamic State in Iraq and Syria militants killed at least 500 members of Iraq’s Yazidi ethnic minority during their offensive in the north of the country, Iraq’s human rights minister told Reuters Sunday.
The militant group had also buried alive some of their victims, including women and children, Mohammad Shia al-Sudani said.
He added that almost 300 women were kidnapped as slaves, he added.
“We have striking evidence obtained from Yazidis fleeing Sinjar and some who escaped death, and also crime scene images that show indisputably that the gangs of the Islamic States have executed at least 500 Yazidis after seizing Sinjar,” Sudani told.
Sinjar is the ancient home of the Yazidis, one of the towns captured by the ISIS who view the community as “devil worshipers.”
“Some of the victims, including women and children were buried alive in scattered mass graves in and around Sinjar,” Sudani said.
The Yazidis, followers of an ancient religion derived from Zoroastrianism, are spread over northern Iraq and are part of the country’s Kurdish minority.
A deadline passed at midday on Sunday for 300 Yazidi families to convert to Islam or face death at the hands of the Islamic State. It was not immediately clear whether the Iraqi minister was talking about the fate of those families or others in the conflict.
The militant group, which arrived in northern Iraq in June, has routed Kurds in its latest advance, seizing several towns, a fifth oilfield and Iraq’s biggest dam – possibly gaining the ability to flood cities and cut off water and power supplies.
At least 20,000 members of the Yazidi community who had been besieged by militants on a mountain in northern Iraq have safely escaped to Syria and been escorted by Kurdish forces back into Iraq, officials said Sunday.
An official from Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish government at the Fishkhabur crossing point said 30,000 displaced who had fled Mount Sinjar had come via Syria and crossed back into Iraq.
Lawmaker Vian Dakhil, who is from the Yazidi minority, said 20,000 to 30,000 have managed to flee and were now in Iraqi Kurdistan.
“The passage isn’t 100 percent safe. There is still a risk,” she added, as the international community ramped up efforts to provide food and water by air drops to those still stranded.
News of the killings have already attracted international attention. The Pope declared “these Iraq crimes troubling and incredible” and called for an efficacious political solution to stop these crimes.