Across the Kurdish region of northern Iraq, refugee camps, building sites and a sprinkling of Yazidi villages hold tens of thousands of Yazidi refugees who fled the advance of Isil in scenes of biblical exodus across Mount Sinjar in August.
But tens of thousands more were trapped behind the Isil lines.
Researchers adding together accounts of massacres in Yazidi villages as the jihadists attacked have counted a series of killings of more than 100 men each, with the total gunned down now thought to be up to 5,000.
An estimated 5-7,000 women are also being held in makeshift detention centres, where they are being taken away and either sold into servitude or handed to jihadists as concubines. The town of Tal Afar alone is thought to hold around 3,500 women and children in five detention centres.
With the United States no longer engaged, ISIS retook two towns on Sinjar Mountain Monday, “indicating that the Sunni militant group is advancing on territory that the U.S. had said that it had secured during its airstrikes on the region back in August.”
Via the International Business Times:
It was not immediately clear how many Yazidis were affected by the group’s takeover Monday. Some news reports said that as many as 700 families could have been displaced by the ISIS siege. Tens of thousands of Yazidis were forced to flee from the mountain this summer. Since then, many of those who fled have returned home, thinking that the U.S. had pushed back the militant group from the area.
Now ISIS is back in the area, looking to take back the towns it held before the U.S. airstrikes. One of the most vulnerable populations among the Yazidis are women. Earlier this month, ISIS said it had enslaved women and children in several villages on Mount Sinjar. In an article in its online magazine, ISIS claimed that the group gave women to soldiers who fought on the mountain.
Via the Washington Post, a desperate plea for help:
“We called asking for help with airstrikes, but nothing,” said Mohammad Khalil, a Yazidi and former member of parliament who has been fighting alongside the 2,000-strong volunteer force in the area since late August. “Now we are all trapped — the fighters are trapped, the civilians are trapped.”
Yazidis are facing “attempted Genocide” UN official says:
Strong evidence suggests that Iraq’s ethnic and religious minority, the Yazidis, face what could amount to “attempted genocide,” a top U.N. rights official said on Wednesday.
Via The Daily Mail, a Yazidi woman taken prisoner tells a tale of terror, desolation, and despair.
A young Yazidi woman forced into sex slavery by the Islamic State begged the West to bomb the brothel where she was being held after militants raped her 30 times in just a few hours, it is claimed.
The unidentified woman is understood to have been kept as a prisoner of the jihadists somewhere in western Iraq having been captured by ISIS during the Sinjar massacre in early August.
A group raising awareness of ISIS’ persecution of women in the vast swathes of the Middle East under its control said the woman had contacted Kurdish peshmerga fighters by telephone to plead for the brothel to be bombed to put the women held as sex slaves out of their misery.
She allegedly told the fighters she had been raped so frequently that she could no longer use the toilet, adding that the ordeal has been so harrowing that she plans to commit suicide even if freed.
The UK Telegraph reports that “at first, reports of the massacres and the mass sexual enslavement of women were so extreme and apparently incredible that they went little reported compared to the very visible plight of those who escaped to the mountain.”
However, United Nations researchers have managed to verify many of the accounts beyond reasonable doubt: virtually every refugee family has male relatives who have been killed and women who have been kidnapped.
Matthew Barber, a scholar of Yazidi history at the University of Chicago who was in Kurdistan as the assaults happened, said it was thought 3-5,000 men had been killed.
He said he had also compiled a list of 4,800 names of women and children being held captive.
“In every place where Yazidi women or families are held, jihadists come and randomly select women that they take away,” he added. “A final total above 7,000 is perfectly feasible.”
“My 13-year-old sister was separated from my family,” said one man, Ahmed Naif Qasem, who is staying in the town of Ba’adre. He was away serving with the Kurdish armed forces, the Peshmerga, when the Yazidis swept through in the first week in August.
His parents, wife and extended family were seized from their home in Snuny, near Sinjar, and taken over the Syrian border to be converted to Islam at gunpoint.
When the family returned, his sister and his wife had been taken away.
His wife was later allowed to rejoin her family after having been “treated badly”, he said, but no one had seen his sister since.
What has happened to the women has been relayed in a series of phone calls from families, and in some rare cases by women and girls who had managed to escape.
Mr Khalaf said his 13-year-old niece had been among the members of his family seized, but she had escaped seven weeks after being “taken away”. She had so far been too distressed to describe what had happened to her, he said.
“She just cries when she tries to speak,” he said. Others escapees have told of being “married” to older jihadi leaders, in some cases raped, and made to watch acts of barbarity.
Pray for the Yazadis, Kurds, and Christians in the Middle East. And pray for peace, but if there can be no peace, pray for lots of well aimed airstrikes hitting their ISIS targets.
For some reason, I can’t get this hymn “Cry of the Poor” out of my head.