News / Middle East

Iraqi Minister: Islamic State Militants Killed at Least 500 Yazidis

  • The United States began to drop relief supplies to beleaguered Yazidi refugees fleeing Islamist militants in Iraq. Here displaced people, who fled from the violence in the province of Nineveh, arrive at Sulaimaniya province, Aug. 8, 2014.
  • Shi'ite Muslims listen to Sheikh Abdul Mehdi Al-Karbala'i speak as he delivers the text of a sermon by Iraq's top Shi'ite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, during Friday prayers at the Imam Hussein shrine in the holy city of Karbala, Aug. 8, 2014.
  • U.S. President Barack Obama talks about the humanitarian relief situation in Iraq inside the State Dining Room of the White House, in Washington, DC, Aug. 7, 2014.
  • Demonstrators ask for help for Yazidi people who are stranded by violence in northern Iraq, across from the White House in Washington, DC, Aug. 7, 2014.
  • Displaced people from the minority Yazidi sect take refuge at Dohuk province, Aug. 7, 2014.
  • Displaced Iraqis take refuge at Dohuk province, Aug. 7, 2014.
  • Displaced Iraqi Christians settle at St. Joseph Church in Irbil, northern Iraq, Aug. 7, 2014.
  • Kurdish peshmerga troops patrol in a tank during an operation against Islamic State militants in Makhmur, on the outskirts of the province of Nineveh, Aug. 7, 2014.
  • Displaced families from the minority Yazidi sect, fleeing the violence, walk on the outskirts of Sinjar, west of Mosul, Aug. 5, 2014.
Developments in Iraq

Islamic State militants have killed at least 500 members of Iraq's Yazidi ethnic minority during their offensive in the north, Iraq's human rights minister told Reuters on Sunday.

Mohammed Shia al-Sudani said the Sunni militants had also buried alive some of their victims, including women and children. Some 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 said in a telephone interview, in his first remarks to the media on the issue.

Sinjar is the ancient home of the Yazidis, one of the towns captured by the Sunni militants who view the community as “devil worshipers” and tell them to convert to Islam or face death.

Sunday deadline

A deadline passed at midday on Sunday for 300 Yazidi families to convert to Islam or face death at the hands of the militants. It was not immediately clear whether the Iraqi minister was talking about the fate of those families or others in the conflict.

“Some of the victims, including women and children were buried alive in scattered mass graves in and around Sinjar,” Sudani said.

The minister's comments could pile pressure on the United States - which has carried out air strikes on Islamic State targets in response to the group's latest push through the north - to provide more extensive support.

“In some of the images we have obtained there are lines of dead Yazidis who have been shot in the head while the Islamic State fighters cheer and wave their weapons over the corpses,” said Sudani. “This is a vicious atrocity.”

The Islamic State group, which has declared a caliphate in parts of Iraq and Syria, has prompted tens of thousands of Yazidis and Christians to flee for their lives during their push to within a 30-minute drive of the Kurdish regional capital Irbil.

Boast of killings

Earlier in their push through northern Iraq, the group known as Islamic State in the Levant and now calling itself the Islamic State, considers all Shi'ites heretics who must repent or die, boasted of killing hundreds of captive Shi'ite soldiers after capturing the city of Tikrit on June 12.

They put footage on the Internet of their fighters shooting prisoners.

The Yazidis, followers of an ancient religion derived from Zoroastrianism, are spread over northern Iraq and are part of the country's Kurdish minority.

Many of their villages were destroyed when Saddam Hussein's troops tried to crush the Kurds during his iron-fisted rule. Some were taken away by the executed former leader's intelligence agents.

Now they are on the defensive again. Tens of thousands of Yazidis fled for their lives after Kurdish fighters abandoned them in the face of Islamic State militants, and are trapped on a mountain near Sinjar at risk of starvation.

“We spoke to some of the Yazidis who fled from Sinjar. We have dozens of accounts and witness testimonies describing painful scenes of how Islamic State fighters arrived and took girls from their families by force to use them as slaves,” Sudani said.

“The terrorist Islamic State has also taken at least 300 Yazidi women as slaves and locked some of them inside a police station in Sinjar and transferred others to the town of Tal Afar. We are afraid they will take them outside the country," he added.

“The international community should submit to the fact that the atrocities of the Islamic State will not stop in Iraq and could be repeated somewhere else if no urgent measures were taken to neutralize this terrorist group,” Sudani said.

“It's now the responsibility of the international community to take a firm stand against the Islamic State to reach a consensus on a legitimate decision to start the war on Islamic State to stop genocides and atrocities against civilians," he said.

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.

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Comment Sorting
by: Faiyaz Ahmed S M from: India
August 10, 2014 1:33 PM
The sudden appearance and unhindered spread of ISIL is baffling. The U S ruled Iraq by proxy till recently. U S army was stationed in Iraq. Then how did the U S miss the birth and mammoth growth of ISIL? Was ISIL patronized by the U S like the Afghan Mujahedeen and it metamorphosed into a monster that can't be contained?

by: Francis mburu from: kenya
August 10, 2014 1:26 PM
it's very disheartening that billions of people are watching a slaughter without taking any action. it's true we are 1st class animals.

by: Dr. M. Lumley from: UK
August 10, 2014 12:16 PM
The real crime here is that of the BBC/Al Jazeera... they are sitting on a mountain of evidence that will paint in true colors the absolute depravity and debauchery and barbarity and brutality of Hamas and ISIL and Hezbollah and Fatah... and all these Islamic mutants. But the BBC chose not to... that act of volition - knowing that you have material evidence and deliberately concealing it, so as to create a false impression - THAT IS THE CRIME HERE.

by: meanbill from: USA
August 10, 2014 12:13 PM
TRUTH BE TOLD.... Al-Qaeda and the majority of the Sunni Muslim tribes in Iraq, fought the US and NATO coalition forces in the Iraq war from 2003 until 2011, (and when), Al-Qaeda leader al Zawahiri kicked al-Baghdadi out of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, (then), al-Baghdadi went to Syria and recruited the US armed and trained Sunni Muslims who were fighting against Shia Muslim Assad into the (ISIL) Sunni Muslim army, (and then), al-Baghdadi entered Iraq with his new (ISIL) Sunni Muslim army, (and again), the US armed and trained Sunni Muslims in the Iraq army, took the US supplied weapons and joined with the (ISIL) Sunni Muslim army, (and also as planned), the Sunni Muslim tribes that always fought against the US and the Shia Muslim led government of Iraq, also joined with the (ISIL) al-Baghdadi Sunni Muslim army..... (forming the (ISIL) al-Baghdadi Sunni Muslim Caliphate)..

ONLY FOOLISH PEOPLE believe that the (ISIL) al-Baghdadi army isn't waging a Sunni Muslim Holy War, with intentions of overwhelming the Islamic world and forming a new al-Baghdadi (ISIL) Sunni Muslim Caliphate, and rid the world of Shia Muslims, who al-Baghdadi calls "the dirty ones" and either convert people of different religions to Sunni Muslims, or kill them.....

ONLY FOOLISH PEOPLE think that al-Maliki can form a trustworthy coalition with the Sunni Muslim tribes or individuals, who have already sworn to al-Baghdadi the (Bay'ah), the oath of allegiance to obey him, and submit to him, and not make war on him, as long as it does not disobey the laws of Allah, and to make Allah's word supreme in the world, and to restore the glory of Sunni Muslim Islam....

PS;... ONLY FOOLISH PEOPLE think al-Maliki can form a coalition government with the Sunni Muslims, who have already surrendered the Sunni Muslim cities and towns to al-Baghdadi and joined the (ISIL) Sunni Muslim army, (and), also swore the (Bay'ah) oath allegiance to him, (to kill Shia Muslims, and convert by the sword people of other religions, or kill them..... (WHAT part of the al-Baghdadi (ISIL) Sunni Muslim army, or the allegiance of the other Sunni Muslims to al-Baghdadi, don't foolish people understand?).
In Response

by: ali baba from: new york
August 10, 2014 3:48 PM
Only foolish people believe you. Radical Muslim want to enforce sharia law and establish an Islamic empire similar to the Islamic empire that was existed thousands years. When Muslim invade the countries thousand years are forced people to convert to Islam. the Christian community and yazadi was living In Iraq long time when Islam Existed . When the Muslim invaded Iraq thousand years ago .they kill millions in Iraq . They killed millions of Christian and yazadi . the ISIS want to restore the legacy of Islamic empire. they choose the same methods which The Muslim did in the past. ISIS goal is similar to Osama bin laden group. Isis goal is similar to Muslim brotherhood. the only difference is that each terrorist organization use different strategy . one choose use an aggressive methods than other . the goal is the same and they will not achieved it . Sooner or latter they be defeated . at that time ,they understand that GOD is not with them . God is lovable god and he is not murdered nor choose killing as a means to achieve its goal.

by: ali baba from: new york
August 10, 2014 9:44 AM
The Iraq Army has to use their troops and fight with the Kurds. the Kurds are not so strong. The American Give hands by air strike and Iraq has to use its force to fight ISIS . Killing yazadi with such barbaric way is not acceptable . ISIS is a Psychopath and explain how fanatic can commit horrible crime. please stop calling Islam is a peaceful religion.

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