In Iraq, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) had given the Yazidi people a deadline of midday Sunday to convert to Islam or die. People who have escaped claim ISIS executed at least 500 Yazidis after overrunning Sinjar. Many, including women and children, were buried alive in mass graves. They have also taken at least 300 Yazidi women as slaves. Presently they are being held at a police station, but fears abound that the women will soon be taken out of the country.
The Iraqi have not seen eye-to-eye with the Kurds in the north. Usually Iraq’s Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki argues with the Kurds over oil and land. However, since ISIS swept into Iraq in June they have seized so much territory that the Iraqi government sent a planeload of ammunition to Peshmerga fighters, the Kurdish soldiers whose name means “those who face death.” The C-130 cargo plane was loaded with mostly small arms and ammunition to attempt to keep ISIS out of Arbil, the Iraqi Kurdistan capital.
The peshmerga have been warning the Iraqi government and the U.S. that they are ill-equipped. Lt. General Jaber Yawer Monda warned, “We cannot hold it for very long. We are not a country, we do not have an army, we do not have aircraft.”ISIS has bulletproof vests and U.S. made weapons seized while fighting the Iraqi army, even M1 Abrams tanks.
On June 10 Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, fell to the Islamic State. Militants seized the dam in Mosul thattttt controls water levels on the Tigris all the way to Baghdad. This also gives them control over the electricity.
Two hundred and fifty Christians from Mosul fled to Mar Mattai Monastery. One woman said they were stripped of anything valuable including their money, passports, watches, even the jewelry they have on. She was informed that their home had been marked “N” for Nasrani, a derogatory Arabic word for Christian, and became the property of ISIS. She said Mosul had about 60,000 Christians, but now only a handful remain.
40,600 Yazidis have been pushed to a mountaintop where Iraqi security forces are airlifting around 100 to 150 people each day. Saturday, there were 3,804 gallons of water and 16,128 ready-to-eat meals airdropped, but it is not enough. Temperatures can reach 122 degrees and many have no water.
The U.S. military began new airstrikes against ISIS at 9:15 Sunday morning (local time). President Obama has said striking ISIS defends U.S. interests at home as well as the U.S. embassy, with hundreds of military personnel and advisers in Arbil. France and the UK have agreed to help provide humanitarian assistance to the tens of thousands of refugees stranded on Mt. Sinjar.
In Mosul residents were ordered to convert to Islam or pay $250 a month. If they did not obey, they faced execution. Later ISIS militants in Iraq revoked tax as an option and are now saying convert or die.
ISIS has placed heads of victims on stakes in towns they have captured, as well as posting gruesome videos of executions online. ISIS claims Iraq is now an Islamic caliphate, empowering them to demand convert or die. Pope Francis prayed today about the situation in his weekly address, mentioned the tragedy saying, “All of this deeply offends God and deeply offends humanity.”
By Laurie Stilwell