ISIS accused of ‘ethnic cleansing on historic scale’

Fresh evidence uncovered by Amnesty International indicates that ISIS has launched a systematic campaign of ethnic cleansing in northern Iraq, carrying out war crimes, including mass summary killings and abductions, against ethnic and religious minorities. The Sept. 2 briefing, "Ethnic cleansing on historic scale: Islamic State's systematic targeting of minorities in northern Iraq," presents a series of accounts from survivors of massacres, detailing how dozens of men and boys in the Sinjar region were rounded up into pick-up trucks and taken to village outskirts to be massacred in groups or shot individually. Hundreds, possibly thousands, of women and children from the Yazidi minority have also been abducted since ISIS took control of the area. "The massacres and abductions being carried out by the Islamic State provide harrowing new evidence that a wave of ethnic cleansing against minorities is sweeping across northern Iraq,” said Donatella Rovera, Amnesty's senior crisis response adviser currently in northern Iraq. "The Islamic State is carrying out despicable crimes and has transformed rural areas of Sinjar into blood-soaked killing fields in its brutal campaign to obliterate all trace of non- Arabs and non-Sunni Muslims."

Amnesty has gathered evidence that several mass killings took place in Sinjar in August. Two of the deadliest incidents took place when ISIS fighters raided the villages of Qiniyeh on Aug. 3 and Kocho (Kojo) on Aug. 15. The number of those killed in these villages alone runs into the hundreds. Groups of men and boys including children as young as 12 from both villages were seized by militants, taken away and shot.

Among the ethnic and religious minorities being targeted in northern Iraq are Assyrian Christians, Turkmen, Shabak, Kakai and Sabian Mandaeans. Many Sunni Arabs known or suspected to oppose ISIS have also been targeted. (ANF, Sept. 2)