IS threatens to kill 300 Yazidi families

IS threatens to kill 300 Yazidi families

Hundreds of Yazidi women have been taken captive by Sunni militants with “vicious plans,” an Iraqi official has said, further underscoring the dire plight of Iraq’s minorities at the hands of the Islamic State (IS) group.

IS has threatened to kill more than 300 families from the Yazidi community unless they convert to Islam, witnesses and a Yazidi lawmaker told Reuters on Saturday.

The families in the villages of Koja, Hatimiya and Qaboshi are surrounded by the Sunni militants who are mounting an offensive through northern Iraq which has sent tens of thousands of Yazidis and Christians fleeing for their lives, prompting international outrage.

Kamil Amin, the spokesman for Iraq’s Human Rights Ministry, said on Friday that hundreds of Yazidi women below the age of 35 are being held in schools in Iraq’s second largest city, Mosul. He said the ministry learned of the captives from their families.

“We think that the terrorists by now consider them slaves and they have vicious plans for them,” said Amin. “We think that these women are going to be used in demeaning ways by those terrorists to satisfy their animalistic urges in a way that contradicts all the human and Islamic values.”

The US has confirmed that the IS has kidnapped and imprisoned Yazidi women so that they can be sold or married off to extremist fighters, said a US official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the information came from classified intelligence reports.

There was no solid estimate of the number of women who were taken hostage, the official said. Tens of thousands of Yazidis fled when the IS earlier this month captured the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar, near the Syrian border. The Yazidis practice an ancient religion that the Sunni Muslim radicals consider heretical.

The extremist group’s capture of a string of towns and villages in the north has sent minority communities fleeing for their lives.

The Islamic state views Yazidis and Shiite Muslims as apostates, and has demanded Christians either convert to Islam or pay a special tax.

About 50,000 Yazidis, half of them children, according to UN figures, fled to the mountains outside Sinjar where many of them remain, trapped and running out of food and water.

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