ISIS massacres 700 Turkmen: report

ISIS fighters massacred 700 Turkmen civilians—including women, children and the elderly—in a northern Iraqi village last month, a UNICEF official reports. Marco Babille, the UN Children's Fund representative in Iraq, said that fighters carried out the massacre in Beshir village (Sulaymaniyah governorate) on July 11 and 12. Speaking to Italian news agency ANSA, he said the information came from witnesses who had fled the village. Calling for a "humanitarian D-Day" for the 700,000 refugees estimated to have fled ISIS violence in northern Iraq, Babille said the international community should establish a "safe haven" protected by peacekeeping forces. He also called for a "systematic air bridge from Europe" to help Kurdish forces, who he described as "the only bulwark of human rights" in Iraq, giving shelter to displaced people irrespective of ethnicity or faith. (Turkish Weekly, Aug. 27)

Baghdad is meanwhile massing forces for an operation to break the two-month ISIS siege of the Shiite Turkmen village of Amerli (Salah ad Din governorate), amid growing fears for residents short of food and water. US President Barack Obama is weighing a decision to authorize air-strikes and aid drops in the area to assist the approximately 12,000 residents trapped in the town. Thousands of Shiite militiamen from groups including Asaib Ahl al-Haq and the Badr organization are gathering in the Tuz Khurmatu area, just north of Amerli, in preparation for a battle to break the siege. Regular Iraqi army are mobilizing in the Jabal Hamreen area, south of Amerli, to launch an attack from the southern flank. Iraqi aircraft have been targeting ISIS positions around Amerli. The UN's Iraq envoy Nickolay Mladenov has called for an urgent effort to aid Amerli, saying residents face a "possible massacre" if it is overrun. (Daily Star, Lebanon, Aug. 28)

  1. Shi’ite fighters break siege of Amerli

    Iraqi army forces backed by Shi'ite militias on Aug. 31 broke the two-month ISIS siege of Amerli, officials said. Fighting continues to the north of Amerli in several villages. US air-strikes reportedly played a critical role in breaking the siege, prevenitng ISIS from being resupplied from the north. One of the Shi'ite militias involved in the operation was the Peace Brigades, an offshoot of cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army. (Reuters)