The Yazidi miltia that has been formed to help Peshmerga forces liberate Sinjar from ISIS is being armed by the Kurdistan Regional Government. The militia's commander, Qassim Shashou, told the independent Kurdish agency BasNews that he hopes to receive heavy artillery has said had been promised by the KRG. "We are looking forward to receiving the weapons which will be vital in our fight against IS. After we free Sinjar, we can return to our homes with our head held high," said Shashou. (BasNews) Qasim Shesho, another member of the militia, urged his fellow Yazidis to stand and fight rather than flee Iraq. "Those who urge Yezidis to leave for Europe have no integrity or conviction," he told Rudaw agency. "We ask these people [who have left] to come and defend their land and return to Shingal,"* he told Rudaw in an interview. "I have German citizenship and could leave today, but it would be a disgrace to abandon my land." The militia, said number 2,000, is also coordinating with the PKK-aligned People's Protection Units (YPG) in the battle for Sinjar. They are hoping to protect Yazidi holy places in the mountains, such as the shrine to 13th century saint Sharafaddin, before they are desecrated or destroyed by ISIS. (Rudaw)
The UN's Iraq envoy Nickolay Mladenov meanwhile called for urgent action to prevent a massacre in Amerli (Salah ad Din governorate), saying he is "seriously alarmed" by reports that the twon, besieged by ISIS for two months, has no electricity or drinking water, and is running out of food and medical supplies. The majority of Amerli's residents are Turkmen Shi'ites, seen as heretics by ISIS. "The situation of the people in Amerli is desperate and demands immediate action to prevent the possible massacre of its citizens," Mladenov said in a statement. "I urge the Iraqi government to do all it can to relieve the siege and to ensure that the residents receive life-saving humanitarian assistance or are evacuated in a dignified manner." (BBC News)
Bombings across Iraq on Aug. 23 killed at least 35. In Baghdad, a bomber rammed a vehicle into an intelligence headquarters, killing at least eight. Near Tikrit, a suicide bomber driving a military Humvee packed with explosives attacked a gathering of soldiers and Shi'ite militiaman, killing nine. In Kurdish-held Kirkuk, at least 18 were killed in coordinated car bomb blasts. A car bomb also exploded in the normally peaceful Erbil, the Kuridsh capital, injuring four. (BBC News, Rudaw, IraqiNews.com Reuters)
The chair of the Anbar provincial council, Sabah Karhout, announced that new Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi agreed to the conditions imposed by local Sunni leaders in return for the support of Wataniya (National Alliance) bloc to the formation of the new Iraqi government. (Aswat al-Iraq) Imams in Anbar's strategic town of Haditha urged the citizens to rise up against ISIS and reject sectarianism. (IraqiNews.com)
Also Aug. 23, several hundred protested in Baghdad, accusing the US of a "double standard" in supporting the KRG and the defense of Erbil at the expense of Iraq's capital. Activists said they were ready to fight to break the ISIS siege of towns in Diyala governorate in central Iraq, and demanded air support. "It is the duty of everyone in Iraq not to leave these areas to their fate and let IS terrorists control them,” said protest leader Ahmad Abdulhussein. "If they fall, their people will the victims of the same calamity to which the inhabitants of Tal Affar and Sinjar were subjected." (Azzaman)
* Shingal appears to be an accepted alternative spelling for Sinjar.