16 Aug 2014

Yazidis ‘massacred’ by IS in Iraq

Islamic militants in Iraq reportedly massacre 80 members of the Yazidi minority, although reports emerge of a far larger number being killed.

About 80 members of Iraq’s Yazidi minority have been “massacred” by Islamic State (IS) insurgents, according to a Yazidi lawmaker and two Kurdish officials.

The killings reportedly took place within the space of one hour in a village in northern Iraq on Friday after the Yazidis refused to convert to Islam as demanded by IS.

A Yazidi leader later told Channel 4 News that the number was far higher, and that more than 350 men were killed by Islamic State militants.

The United Nations Security Council has now blacklisted the Islamic State’s spokesman and five other militants on Friday and threatened sanctions against those backing the insurgents, giving UN experts 90 days to report on who those people are.

In Brussels, European Union foreign ministers meeting in emergency session decided that member states were free to send weapons to the Kurds provided they had the consent of Iraqi national authorities.

People are exhausted, people are very thirsty, these are searing temperatures UN refugee spokesman Dan McNorton

The EU said it would also look at how to prevent the Islamic State from benefiting from oil sales, after the group overran some oilfields in Syria and Iraq.

Several European governments have said they will send arms to the Kurds or are considering doing so, including the UK, France, Germany, the Czech Republic and the Netherlands,

International help

Canada is sending two military transport planes to deliver weapons to the Kurds. Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Canada “will not stand idly by while the Islamic State continues its murder of innocent civilians and religious minorities.”

The US said its drone aircraft had struck two IS vehicles near a village where Peshmerga forces reported that militants were attacking civilians, although it was not immediately clear whether the US was responding to that reported incident.

On Thursday, US President Barack Obama said the Islamists’ siege of Mount Sinjar had been broken and he did not expect the United States to stage an evacuation or continue air drops.

But Dan McNorton of the UNHCR refugee agency said help was still needed. “That situation remains very dramatic for those people, regardless of
how many people are on the mountain,” he said.

The UN said about 80,000 people had fled to the relative safety of Dohuk province on the Turkish and Syrian borders – some of the 1.2 million Iraqis who have been displaced inside the country this year.

“People are exhausted, people are very thirsty, these are searing temperatures,” Mr McNorton added.

“It is of critical importance to ensure that they get the assistance and support.”

Widening threat

The Islamic State has seized large parts of Syria as it tries to build a caliphate across borders drawn by European powers a century ago.

The leader of the Shiite Lebanese group Hezbollah said the Sunni militants could widen their threat to include Jordan and Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and other Gulf states, as well as the region’s varied communities.

Western leaders have said repeatedly that Iraq’s leaders need to be the main force in addressing internal security threats.

Tribal leaders and clerics from Iraq’s Sunni heartland offered their conditional backing on Friday for a new government that hopes to contain sectarian bloodshed and an offensive by Islamic State militants that threatens to tear the country apart.

One of the most influential tribal leaders said he was willing to work with Shiite prime minister-designate Haider al-Abadi provided a new administration respected the rights of the Sunni Muslim minority that dominated Iraq under Saddam Hussein.

Outgoing Shiite prime minister Nuri al-Maliki ended eight years in power that began under US occupation and endorsed Abadi in a televised late-night speech during which he stood next to his successor.