Air strikes target Islamic militants
Air strikes pounded the area around Iraq’s largest dam yesterday as an effort to drive out Islamic extremists who captured it earlier this month strengthened, and as reports emerged of the massacre of about 80 members of the Yazidi religious minority by the militants.
Residents living near the Mosul Dam said the area was being targeted in air strikes, but it was not immediately clear if they were being carried out by Iraq’s air force or by the US. Last week, the US began launching air strikes aimed at halting the advance of the Islamic State across the country’s north.
The extremist group seized the dam on the Tigris River on August 7. Residents near the dam said the air strikes killed militants, but that could not immediately be confirmed.
The residents spoke on condition of anonymity because they feared for their safety.
Meanwhile, a Yazidi legislator and a Kurdish security official said the Islamic State massacred scores of Yazidi men on Friday afternoon after seizing the village of Kocho.
Both said they based their information on the accounts of survivors and warned that the minority group remained in danger despite US aid drops and strikes launched to protect them.
Islamic State fighters besieged the village for several days and gave its Yazidi residents a deadline to convert to Islam, said Yazidi legislator Mahma Khalil yesterday.
“When the residents refused to do this, the massacre took place,” he said.
Tens of thousands of Yazidis fled when the Islamic State group captured the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar near the Syrian border earlier this month. – AP