Hundreds of captive Yazidis have been shot and killed by Islamic State jihadis near Mosul, Iraq, according to sources from Yazidi and Iraqi officials, and local news outlets.
The Yazidi Progress Party announced Saturday that 300 Yazidi hostages were killed late Friday in Tal Afar, which is situated roughly 35 miles west of Mosul. Osama al-Nujafi, Iraq’s vice-president, said that the reports coming in of the mass slaughter are “horrific and barbaric,” according to the BBC.
Kurdish outlet Shafaq News also reported on the killings, describing the news as a “heinous crime.” Qulu Sanjiri, a member of the commission, said that at least 3,000 Yazidis are still being held by the group. An official of the Kurdistan Democratic Party said: “Women, children and elderly people are confirmed among the victims. IS gathered them in one place and shot them all together.”
The Yazidis, followers of an ancient faith, are regarded by Islamic State as infidels. Tens of thousands of Yazidis fled in August when the Islamic State group captured the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar, near the Syrian border. But hundreds were taken captive by the group, with some Yazidi women forced into slavery, according to international rights groups and Iraqi officials.
About 50,000 Yazidis - half of them children, according to UN figures - fled to the mountains outside Sinjar during the onslaught. Some still remain there. The U.S. launched airstrikes and humanitarian aid drops in Iraq on Aug. 8, partly in response to the crisis on Sinjar mountain. Since then, a US-led coalition of countries have conducted airstrikes across Iraq in an effort to destroy the Islamic State group, which now holds a third of both Iraq and Syria.
The Sunni militant group views Yazidis and Shiite Muslims as apostates deserving of death, and has demanded Christians either convert to Islam or pay a special tax. Previously, the group has let go of hundreds of other Yazidis held in captivity. Iraqi and Kurdish officials said they believe the militants couldn't afford caring for the prisoners, many of whom were elderly and sick.