Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants killed at least 500 members of Iraq's Yazidi ethnic minority during their offensive in the north of the country, Iraq's human rights minister told Reuters Sunday.
The militant group had also buried alive some of their victims, including women and children, Mohammad Shia al-Sudani said. He added that almost 300 women were kidnapped as slaves
The news come as Iraqi Kurdish president appeals to thr international community for weapons to fight the ISIS.
"We have striking evidence obtained from Yazidis fleeing Sinjar and some who escaped death, and also crime scene images
that show indisputably that the gangs of the Islamic States have executed at least 500 Yazidis after seizing Sinjar," Sudani told
Infographic: Iraq's Yazidi Sect
Infographic: Iraq's Yazidi Sect
Sinjar is the ancient home of the Yazidis, one of the towns captured by the ISIS who view the community as "devil worshipers."
"Some of the victims, including women and children were buried alive in scattered mass graves in and around Sinjar," Sudani said.
The Yazidis, followers of an ancient religion derived from Zoroastrianism, are spread over northern Iraq and are part of the country's Kurdish minority.
A deadline passed at midday on Sunday for 300 Yazidi families to convert to Islam or face death at the hands of the Islamic State. It was not immediately clear whether the Iraqi minister was talking about the fate of those families or others in the conflict.
The militant group, which arrived in northern Iraq in June, has routed Kurds in its latest advance, seizing several towns, a fifth oilfield and Iraq's biggest dam - possibly gaining the ability to flood cities and cut off water and power supplies.
At least 20,000 members of the Yazidi community who had been besieged by militants on a mountain in northern Iraq have safely escaped to Syria and been escorted by Kurdish forces back into Iraq, officials said Sunday.
An official from Iraq's autonomous Kurdish government at the Fishkhabur crossing point said 30,000 displaced who had fled Mount Sinjar had come via Syria and crossed back into Iraq.
Lawmaker Vian Dakhil, who is from the Yazidi minority, said 20,000 to 30,000 have managed to flee and were now in Iraqi Kurdistan.
"The passage isn't 100 percent safe. There is still a risk," she added, as the international community ramped up efforts to provide food and water by air drops to those still stranded.
News of the killings have already attracted international attention. Pope Francis, the leader of the world's Catholics, declared "these Iraq crimes troubling and incredible" and called for an efficacious political solution to stop these crimes.
“We are left incredulous and dismayed by the news coming from Iraq,” the Argentine-born pontiff said, two days after the United States began air strikes to tackle a growing insurgency.
“Thousands of people, among them many Christians, banished brutally from their houses, children dying of hunger and thirst as they flee, women kidnapped, people massacred, violence of all kinds, destruction everywhere ... All of this deeply offends God and deeply offends humanity.”
France looks at arming Kurds
France, in consultation with its EU partners, is looking at supplying arms to Iraq’s Kurds to fight against Islamic State of Iraq and Syria jihadists, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said Sunday.
“One way or another, they must receive, in a sure way, equipment that will allow them to defend themselves and to counterattack,” Fabius told France 2 television from Erbil, the capital of the autonomous Kurdistan region in northern Iraq.
“We will look into that over the coming days but in liaison with the Europeans,” he said from the city, which is not far from the ISIS frontline.
France and Britain have pledged support for a U.S.-led operation helping Iraqi civilians.
(With AFP)SHOW MORE