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Iraq ‘massacre’ by jihadists

AAP
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Details have emerged of a “massacre” carried out by jihadists in a northern Iraq village, as world powers ramped up efforts to cut their funding, arm Kurds battling them and assist those they displaced.

Dozens of civilians were killed, most of them followers of the Yazidi faith, officials said as the fighters from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), now renamed Islamic State (IS), pressed their offensive against minority groups in the north.

Militants entered the village of Kocho on Friday and “committed a massacre,” senior Iraqi official Hoshyar Zebari said, citing sources from the region and intelligence reports.

“Around 80 of them have been killed,” he said.

A senior official of one of Iraq’s main Kurdish parties said 81 people had lost their lives, while a Yazidi activist said the death toll could be even higher.

The village lies near the northwestern town of Sinjar, which the jihadists stormed on August 3 sending tens of thousands of civilians, many of them Yazidi Kurds, fleeing into the mountains to the its north.

They hid there for days with little food or water.

Fear of an impending genocide against the Yazidi minority, whose faith is anathema to the Sunni Muslim extremists, was one of the reasons Washington cited for air strikes it began on August 8.

US President Barack Obama declared the Mount Sinjar siege over on Thursday but vulnerable civilians remain in areas taken by the jihadists, including Yazidi Kurds.

In Kocho, Zebari said the jihadists “took their revenge on its inhabitants, who happened to be mostly Yazidis who did not flee their homes.”

Human rights groups and residents say IS fighters have demanded that villagers in the Sinjar area convert or leave, unleashing violent reprisals on any who refused.

A Kurdish official said the militants had taken the village’s women to prisons they control.

The Pentagon announced that US drones had struck an IS convoy leaving the village on Friday after receiving reports that residents were under attack.

The outcome of the latest US strike was not immediately clear.

Amnesty International, which has been documenting mass abductions in the Sinjar area, says thousands of Yazidis have been kidnapped by IS since it launched its offensive in the region on August 3.

Members of the Christian, Turkmen and other minorities have also been affected by the violence.

In New York, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution aimed at weakening the jihadists, who control large areas of neighbouring Syria as well as of Iraq.

The resolution “calls on all member states to take national measures to suppress the flow of foreign terrorist fighters” and threatens sanctions against anyone involved in their recruitment.

And EU ministers agreed at an emergency meeting in Brussels to back weapons deliveries to Iraqi Kurdish fighters who have been battling to halt the advance of the well-armed jihadists.