They arrived bristling with heavy weapons and waving black flags from about a dozen Humvees, seized from the Iraqi army and supplied originally by the United States.
When the terrified residents looked out of their windows, they saw that Kosho, their traditional walled village in the mountains of northern Iraq, had been surrounded by jihadists. More than 200 bearded militants had besieged the village.
Then their leader – a local man from Mosul rather than the foreigners who make up more than a third of the ranks of the group now known as Islamic State – offered them a chance to save their lives.
‘He told us that either we become Muslims or they would kill us all,’ said Falah, mayor of the village made up mainly of members of the ancient Yazidi sect. ‘We offered money but they would not accept it.’
The deadline the people of Kosho have to meet is midday today. Since the residents refuse to betray their faith, it is feared an entire village of about 2,500 innocent people might be slaughtered in cold blood.
‘If we did not have families, we would try to escape,’ the stoical Falah told me yesterday. ‘But we have lots of women here and many children, along with all the old men and women of the village. How could we leave them?’
This is thought to be the first time these blood-drenched fanatics – who delight in boasting of their barbarism and posting sickening murder videos on social media – have threatened to wipe out an entire village.
Even by their own chilling standards, re-drawing the Middle East map with a rampage of rape, beheadings and revolting crucifixions, this marks a new low.
It comes at the end of a week during which the fanatics of Islamic State -formerly the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) – shocked the world again by advancing further into Iraq, prompting the US to renew military operations there for the first time since 2011.