500 from Iraq's Yazidi minority killed by IS this week: MP
As many as 500 people from Iraq's Yazidi religious minority have been killed by the militant group Islamic State (IS) in the town of Sinjar since Sunday, a Yazidi lawmaker has claimed.
IS seized Sinjar on Sunday after forcing Kurdish forces out of the region. Local people said the militants would execute them for refusing to convert to Islam.
"IS has killed 500 Yazidis and abducted 500 women as slave concubines in Sinjar," Iraqi MP Fayyan Dahel told a press conference Tuesday in the parliament in Baghdad.
He said the enslaved women had been taken to some areas near the city of Tel Afar, which is also under IS control.
The IS-led militants seized control of the town, which is near the city of Mosul, on Sunday after fierce clashes with Kurdish Peshmerga forces.
The clashes forced the Kurds to withdraw from a region they had protected since insurgents overran Mosul and surrounding localities in June.
Sinjar is the traditional home of the Yazidi, an ancient minority whose eclectic religious sect fuses Zoroastrian, Manichaean, Jewish, Nestorian Christian and Islamic elements. It is regarded as heretical by orthodox Islamic scholars.
"The Yazidi religion is currently being wiped out at the hands of IS," Dahel said, warning against a possible genocide.
He said hundreds of people had lost their lives out of the 30,000 Yazidis who had fled for shelter following the advance of IS.
Many Yazidis have gone to a mountainous region called Lalish, about 50km out of Dohuk, north of Mosul.
IS had previously issued a decree that Christians in Mosul could stay in the city, but should adopt Islam.
On Sunday, Iraqi Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani vowed not to leave an acre of Kurdish land to militants and to protect Mount Sinjar near the Syrian border, as well as the Yazidi people taking shelter there.
Tension continued to remain high in Iraq after the militants, also backed by tribal fighters, seized Iraq's second-largest city Mosul on June 10 and captured a number of other cities in the north, including Tikrit and Tal Afar.
They also reportedly control Al Qaim, Rawah, Anah, Al Ratba and Haditha in the western province of Al Anbar. Around one million civilians have been displaced so far amid the ongoing clashes in the country.