вторник, 19 августа 2014 г.

Up to 3,000 women and girls kidnapped by Islamic State jihadis in Iraq in just a fortnight - and hundreds of men who refuse to convert have been shot dead


  • Innocent Yazidi children have suffered harrowing ordeals in northern Iraq
  • Kidnappings 'happened in areas where residents took up arms against IS'
  • Women are being held separately from the men in IS-controlled Tal Afar
  • 200,000 people escaped to safety but others remain on Mount Sinjar
By Mark Duell 



These are the faces of six of the thousands of innocent Yazidi children who have suffered harrowing ordeals in Iraq this month.

Up to 3,000 women and girls have been kidnapped by Islamic State jihadis in the north of the country in just a fortnight - and hundreds of men who refuse to convert have been shot dead.

The kidnappings appear to have happened in villages where residents took up arms against IS - and the women are being held separately from the men in IS-controlled Tal Afar, east of Mount Sinjar.

Innocent: A displaced Iraqi child from the Yazidi community (left) holds a juice carton after crossing the Syrian-Iraqi border at the Fishkhabur crossing, Iraq. Another Yazidi refugee child is seen (right) in Zakho, Iraq

A Yazidi child receives a polio vaccine at Khanke, outside Dahuk, 260 miles northwest of Baghdad

A Yazidi child receives a polio vaccine. The Yazidis are a centuries-old religious minority viewed as apostates by the Islamic State group, which has claimed mass killings of its opponents in Syria and Iraq



Iraqi clerics from the Yazidi Yazidis found refuge after Islamic State (IS) militants attacked the town of Sinjar

 An Iraqi Yazidi girl holds a baby under a bridge on the outskirts of the Kurdish city of Dohuk

 Yazidi community gather under a bridge where they sought refuge after Islamic State militants attacked the town of Sinjar


 Yazidi community settle at the Qandil mountains near the Turkish border outside Zakho, 300 miles northwest of Baghdad, Iraq


 Young faces: An Iraqi Yazidi girl poses for a photo on the outskirts of the Kurdish city of Dohuk (left), while another is seen standing among clothing at Silopi refugee camp near Sirnak, at the Turkish-Iraqi border (right)


 Caught up in conflict: An Iraqi Yazidi girl on the outskirts of the Kurdish city of Dohuk (left), and another is seen (right) after crossing the Iraqi-Syrian border at the Fishkhabur crossing

Some 200,000 people escaped to safety in Iraq's Kurdish region, but others remain on the mountain.

Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International's senior crisis response adviser, told the Agence France-Presse news agency: ‘The victims are of all ages, from babies to elderly men and women.’

‘It seems they took away entire families, all those who did not manage to flee. We fear the men may have been executed.’

Two women - Leila Khalaf and Wadhan Khalaf - were among those kidnapped from Mujamma Jazira village, said their relative Dakhil Atto Solo.

He added that the abductions happened after residents tried to resist the IS attack, telling AFP: ‘Of course we tried to defend our villages, but they had much bigger weapons.
‘All we had were our Kalashnikovs. They executed 300 men, and took the women to their prisons.  Only God can save them now.’ Their children, said Mr Solo, were rescued by the family.

 Displaced Iraqis from the Yazidi community settle yesterday at the Qandil mountains near the Turkish border


 Some 200,000 people escaped to safety in Iraq's Kurdish region, but others remain on the mountain

‘But the women were in a house surrounded by IS. We had to escape. Now, the children cry for their mothers all the time. "Mama, mama," they wail. But there is no mama, we tell them.’

His comments on the dire situation came as Islamic extremists shot dead scores of Yazidi men, lining them up in small groups and opening fire with assault rifles before seizing their wives and children.


Meanwhile, warplanes targeted insurgents around a large dam that was captured by the IS extremist group earlier this month.A Yazidi politician cited the mass killing in Kocho as evidence that his people were still at risk after a week of US and Iraqi air strikes on the militants.


US Central Command said the strikes were launched under the authority to support humanitarian efforts in Iraq, as well as to protect US staff and facilities.

Central Command says the nine air strikes conducted so far had destroyed or damaged four armoured personnel carriers, seven armed vehicles, two Humvees and an armoured vehicle.
The US began strikes against IS a week ago, in part to prevent the massacre of tens of thousands of Yazidis in northern Iraq.


 Yazidis fled the militants by scrambling up a barren mountain, where they became stranded

 Displaced Iraqi Christians and Yazidis settle at the Diocese of Zakho, 300 miles north-west of Baghdad, Iraq

They fled the militants by scrambling up a barren mountain, where they became stranded. Most were eventually able to escape with help from Kurdish fighters.

IS fighters surrounded the nearby village 12 days ago and demanded that its Yazidi residents convert or die. On Friday afternoon, they moved in.


The militants separated the men from the women and children under 12. They took men and male teens away in groups of a few dozen each and shot them on the edge of the village, according to a wounded man who escaped by feigning death.The militants told people to gather in a school, promising they would be allowed to leave Kocho after their details were recorded, said an eyewitness and the brother of the Kocho mayor, Nayef Jassem.


The fighters then walked among the bodies, using pistols to finish off anyone who appeared to still be alive, the 42-year-old man said from an area where he was hiding.

‘They thought we were dead, and when they went away, we ran away. We hid in a valley until sundown, and then we fled to the mountains,’ he said.


 Displaced Yazidis who fled the violence in the Iraqi town of Sinjar march in a demonstration at the Iraqi-Turkish border crossing in Zakho district of the Dohuk Governorate of the Iraqi Kurdistan province


Demonstrators demanded protection and evacuation from Iraq to safer areas such as Europe and the US


A Yazidi politician, a Kurdish security official and an Iraqi official from the nearby city of Sinjar gave similar accounts, saying Islamic State fighters had massacred many Yazidi men on Friday after seizing Kocho.

All said they based their information on the accounts of survivors. Their accounts matched those of two other Yazidi men, Qassim Hussein and Nayef Jassem, who said they spoke to other survivors.

It was not clear precisely how many men were killed. Iraqi and Kurdish officials said at least 80 men were shot.

Yazidi residents said they believed the number was higher, because there were at least 175 families in Kocho, and few were able to escape before the militants surrounded their hamlet.

Yesterday Britain deployed a US-made spy plane over northern Iraq to monitor the humanitarian crisis and movements of the militants.

The converted Boeing KC-135 tanker, called a Rivet Joint, was monitoring mobile phone calls and other communication.


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