MOSCOW, August 10 (RIA Novosti) – Hundreds of women from the Yezidi minority have been taken hostage by militants from the Islamic State (IS), formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), said Kamil Amin, the spokesman for Iraq's Human Rights Ministry, according to the Associated Press.
According to Amin, the Islamists consider the women slaves that can be sold or forced to marry IS fighters. He added that the radicals had “vicious plans” for the hostages. “We think that these women are going to be used in demeaning ways by those terrorists to satisfy their animalistic urges in a way that contradicts all the human and Islamic values," he told the Associated Press.
The women, all below the age of 35, have been taken captive and brought to schools in the northern city of Mosul, stated the Iraqi official, citing relatives of the victims. Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, was seized by the militants on June 10.
Earlier this month US President Barack Obama stated that the US will airdrop humanitarian aid to the Yezidis targeted by the militants. “ISIL forces … have called for the systematic destruction of the entire Yezidi people, which would constitute genocide,” he added.
Obama also announced that he authorized targeted airstrikes against the IS militants to assist Iraqi forces and protect US personnel in Erbil, the capital city of the semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan. At least three of such airstrikes were carried out on Friday.
The Islamic State fighters seized three towns during the offensive last weekend, among them the town of Sinjar, which is home to many Yezidi Kurds, an ethnic and religious minority. About 50,000 Yezidis, mainly women and children, had to flee to Mount Sinjar. The mountain was later surrounded by the militants.
“There are children dying on the mountain, on the roads,” Marzio Babille, the Iraq representative for the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), told the Washington Post. “There is no water, there is no vegetation, they are completely cut off and surrounded by Islamic State. It’s a disaster, a total disaster,” he added.
On Saturday, Vian Dakhil, a member of the Iraqi parliament, warned that the people trapped on the mountain will start dying en masse if they are not rescued in the coming days, according to AFP. “If we cannot give them hope now - the (Kurdish) peshmerga, the United Nations, the government, anybody - their morale will collapse completely and they will die,” she said.
The Islamic State considers Yezidis, Christians and Shia Muslims apostates who have to convert to Islam, pay tax, called a “jizya”, flee or die.
Earlier, in July, Russia expressed concern over persecutions of Christians living in the north-west of Iraq by the IS militants.
“Moscow is deeply concerned that ISIS militants are persecuting religious minorities living in the north-west of Iraq, forcing thousands of Christians and representatives of other confessions to abandon their traditional places of residence. We believe that such aggressive and systematic actions of Islamist radicals in relation to certain groups of Iraqi society based on religious hatred are completely unacceptable and should be considered criminal,” Russia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
The Sunni group Islamic State has been fighting in Syria against the country’s president, Bashar Assad. The IS launched an offensive in Iraq in June, taking over large swathes of the country. Later that month, the group announced the establishment of a caliphate on the Iraq-Syria border and urged all Muslims to unite under its name. The Islamist caliphate includes regions with Christians and other religious minorities.