Iraq crisis: Iraqi minority says massacre of civilians not over yet

Yazidi activist claims President Obama’s statement that a military evacuation of Mount Sinjar was no longer necessary encouraged Isis militants

A leading Yazidi politician said yesterday that he was preparing to make a last stand in his home village in northern Iraq, as members of the religious minority warned that another massacre of civilians by the extremist militants of the Islamic State (formerly Isis) showed that the crisis was far from over. The United Nations said it was trying to confirm reports of the worst single atrocity against Yazidis since the Islamic State offensive began on 3 August, with two separate sources saying up to 400 men had been executed in the village of Kocho after refusing to convert to Islam.

Last night, Kurdish forces backed by US air strikes were attempting to retake control of the Mosul Dam, which helps power parts of northern Iraq, with some eyewitness reports claiming a ground offensive had been launched as part of the operation. Eleven fighters from Islamic State, which has controlled the dam since 7 August, were said to have been killed. The strikes came a day after Barack Obama said it was no longer necessary to carry out a military evacuation of Mount Sinjar – where tens of thousands of people had been trapped by militants earlier – since many people had managed to escape following US air strikes.

But a leading Yazidi activist, Dr Mirza Dinnayi, who had spoken to Kocho’s senior official before the massacre, claimed there were still 25,000 people in the area and described Mr Obama’s remarks as “a very big mistake”.

When the US said that the siege of Sinjar was effectively over, “this encouraged Islamic State to attack 24 hours later”, he told Jonathan Rugman, of Channel 4 News. “We had a massacre yesterday [and] could have another.”

Citing sources from neighbouring villages, he said 350 people were killed in Kocho by the militants and 1,000 women taken captive. A Kurdish official said  a total of about  400 people had been killed on Friday and yesterday.

In the village of Ba’adra, 25km away from the front line, Mohma Khalil Hasan, a Yazidi who is an MP in the Kurdistan Democratic Party, was preparing for battle. Some people have fled Ba’adra, just north of Mosul, but his family and a number of others decided to stay. He said he was “going to die here” if it came to that.

“Naturally, it’s very dangerous, but we are not afraid,” Mr Hasan said by phone through a translator. “This is genocide, a holocaust, it cannot be worse. This is an attack on the Yazidis and on the whole world.”

The fate of the Yazidi women and children of Kocho is unclear, although there were reports that hundreds of them had been taken to the Islamic State-controlled city of Tal Afar.

Mr Hasan said he had heard of children being sold by militants to be raised by Sunni Muslim families. “They are selling our daughters for two dollars. They bring the girls to the towns like Mosul under Arab control [to sell].”

Full article: Iraq crisis: Iraqi minority says massacre of civilians not over yet (The Independent)

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