Iraqi and Yazidi officials are reporting that 300 Yazidi captives were killed on Friday by Islamic State militants in the Tal Afar district near Mosul. Last year, thousands of members of the religious minority group were captured by Islamic State forces. Yazidis, whose religion includes elements of several faiths, are considered infidels by ISIS. Thousands fled to the Kurdish-controlled region of northern Iraq after IS captured the Yazidi-populated Sinjar district in Nineveh province. Hundreds of men were killed, while some Yazidi women were held and used as sex slaves.
Iraqi Vice-President Osama al-Nujaifi described the reported deaths as “horrific and barbaric”. The Yazidi Progress Party’s statement, quoted by the Kurdish Shafaq News website, condemned the latest incident as a “heinous crime” and called on Iraqi forces to free those still held by ISIS. BBC’s Middle East editor Alan Johnston said that it’s not clear how they were killed, or why this has happened now.
ISIS released some 200 mainly elderly Yazidis into the hands of Kurdish officials near the city of Kirkuk back in January. Many of them, held in Mosul, had disabilities or were wounded, though no reason was given by IS for their release. Kurdish Peshmerga forces drove back IS militants in north-western Iraq, relieving a long siege of Sinjar mountain where thousands of Yazidis had sought refuge back in December. Despite the push back against ISIS in recent months, many Yazidi villages are thought to remain under the militants’ control.