Merkel calls for protected zones for Yazidis in northern Iraq

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Saturday plans should be considered to give Yazidis in Iraq protected areas to retreat to in the north of the country.

“The plans are not finished yet, I’ll be honest with you, but they are on the agenda,” Merkel told a conference of the youth wing of her conservatives, adding that the survival of the Yazidis was at stake.

United Nations investigators said in June that ISIS was committing genocide against the Yazidis in Syria and Iraq to destroy the religious community of 400,000 people through killings, sexual slavery and other crimes.

Merkel said it was necessary to think about how the Yazidis driven out of their homes by ISIS could be given a “safe space” to which they could return once ISIS was defeated.

She said it was necessary to talk to the Yazidis and the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq about that.

Yazidi community leaders have already asked to have international protection for a self-rule administration that they demand to have in their region in northern Iraq, as part of the Iraqi state.

The Yazidis are a religious sect whose beliefs combine elements of several ancient Middle Eastern religions. They are considered infidels by the hardline Sunni Islamist militants.

Merkel also criticized the actions of the Russia-backed Syrian government in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo, saying these were “very close to war crimes” and added that the International Criminal Court would have to determine this.

Rescue workers said on Friday that Syria’s military backed by Russian warplanes had killed more than 150 people in eastern Aleppo this week, in support of its offensive against the city.

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