The Yezidis, a religious minority that number 300,000 – 700,000 in Kurdistan, face extermination as the Islamic State (IS), formerly ISIS, spread its Caliphate through northern Iraq. The Pershmerga, the Kurdish army, protects the religious minority, but the soldiers lack equipment and resources.
On Sunday, IS advanced to Sinjar, which is one of very few cities in the world Yezidis call home. The terrorists identify the Yezidis as “devil worshippers.” Persecution against the 4,000-year-old religion is not new, but IS might eliminate the people from the earth. The Pershmerga warned residents that IS was around the corner, and many people did not stay.
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Earlier on Sunday, the Islamic State captured the town after driving away the Kurdish forces in the region. Witnesses claim that the militants are executing dozens of Yazidis for refusing to convert to Islam.
The Gulf News report claimed that 67 young men were shot dead by the militants. Besides executing the Yazidis, the Al Qaeda offshoot, is also reportedly taking Yazidi women for “jihad” marriage.
Mohammed al-Khuzai, an official with the Iraqi Red Crescent Society told NYTimes that ISIS took more than 100 Yazidi families to the airport at the nearby town of Tal Afar, where it executed the men.
“ISIS killed all the men,” Khuzai said, “and are planning to keep the women for jihad marriage.”
IS did not spare the children. From IBT:
Reports have also come in claiming that the Islamic State militants have forcefully taken away a large number of children from the Yazidi town. A resident told McClatchy DC that militants were taking away young children from their families.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said forty children from Sinjar were killed in the attack.
“Families who fled the area are in immediate need of urgent assistance, including up to 25,000 children who are now stranded in mountains surrounding Sinjar and are in dire need of humanitarian aid, including drinking water and sanitation services,” the organization said.
“Last night [Sunday] they arrested and executed four of my cousins because they worked for the municipality, and already they have begun destroying the homes of the people who fled,” a witness told McClatchy.
Thus, IS caused another mass exodus of a religious minority. In Mosul, IS told Christians to convert to Islam, pay a protection tax, or die. The majority of the people chose to leave. There are no Christians in Mosul for the first time in 2,000 years. Now there are no Yezidis in Sinjar. From the Kurdish news outlet Rudaw:
Rudaw reporters in the region have witnessed a looming humanitarian catastrophe for Yezidi Kurds and for Assyrian and Chaldean Christians. Thousands are scattered across open plains where many have died from hunger and thirst. Twenty children have died of hunger and many elderly collapsed from exhaustion in the summer heat.
Survivors of two days’ fighting in Sihela, who described their dire situation to Rudaw TV, spoke of a life and death situation on a mountain where thousands of men, women and children spent 24 hours.
Yezidis receive support from the Christians, who also suffer under IS. Mizra Ismail, chairman of the Yezidi Human Rights Organization, and other Yezidi leaders, visited Washington, D.C., with the Syriac Diocese of Our Lady of Deliverance from New Jersey.
“We cannot be Christian but to serve the other,” said Syriac Catholic Bishop Barnaba Yousif Habash. “We cannot be Christian but to be for the other. … Their situation is considered worse than ours.”
“They do not even have this,” he said, holding a glass of water; IS cut off water supply to Christian and Kurdish communities they do not control. “There is no power. There are no hospitals. There are no doctors. There is no peace, no security.”