ISIL kills at least 25 captive Yazidis in Tal Afar prison camp

ISIL group militants shot to death at least 25 captive Yazidis at a prison camp in northern Iraq, a Yazidi lawmaker said over the weekend, the latest mass killing carried out by the extremists targeting the sect.

The killings took place at a prison camp near the town of Tal Afar, some 150 kilometers (90 miles) east of the Syrian border or 420 kilometers (260 miles) northwest of Baghdad, legislator Mahma Khalil said.

Khalil said he spoke to four different people with knowledge of what happened inside of the camp, though a reason for the killings still wasn’t immediately apparent.

“The militants want to spread horror among them to force them to convert to Islam or to do something else,” Khalil said on Saturday. He added that those killed included men, women and the elderly. He said he believes some 1,400 other Yazidis are still held in that camp.

Tens of thousands of Yazidis fled in August when ISIL captured the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar, near the Syrian border. But hundreds were taken captive by the group, with some Yazidi women forced into slavery, according to international rights groups and Iraqi officials.

About 50,000 Yazidis — half of them children, according to UN figures — fled to the mountains outside Sinjar during the onslaught. Some still remain there.

The US launched airstrikes and humanitarian aid drops in Iraq on Aug. 8, partly in response to the crisis on Sinjar mountain. Since then, a US-led coalition of countries have conducted air strikes across Iraq in an effort to destroy ISIL group, which now holds a third of both Iraq and Syria.

The Sunni militant group views Yazidis and Shiite Muslims as apostates deserving of death, and has demanded Christians either convert to Islam or pay a special tax. On Sunday, ISIL claimed responsibility for a late-night car bomb attack in the heart of Baghdad that killed at least 19 people, saying it was targeting a Shiite militia.

The extremist group, however, did not shed any light on accusations by Yazidi lawmakers that it had executed at least 25 prisoners of the minority community in the northern city of Tal Afar.

The two car bombs in Baghdad went off about 10 minutes apart late Saturday in the Karrada district, known for its restaurants, cafes and ice cream parlors. Police said the dead and wounded were mainly shoppers and people commemorating the death of Imam Ali, a key figure in Shiite Islam. Two traffic policemen were among those killed.

The online claim is similar to others the group has issued this past week about bombings in Baghdad, which they describe as revenge for the fighting in nearby Anbar province.

Iraqi forces are engaged in a see-saw battle in Anbar against ISIL militants, who control some 65 percent of the province. The fighting has caused 114,000 residents of the regional capital to flee to Baghdad.

Elsewhere, Syrian activists said a government airstrike near a school in the northern city of Aleppo has killed at least seven people, including children, on Sunday. The Aleppo Media Center activist group and the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights say the strike Sunday hit Aleppo’s Seif al-Dawla neighborhood. The Observatory put the death toll at seven, including four children. The Aleppo Media center said at least 10 people were killed and around 20 wounded. Differences in death tolls are common in Syria in the chaotic aftermath of attacks. In one video posted on the Aleppo Media Center’s Facebook page, rescuers carried a young boy and a man — both badly bloodied and covered in dust — to a waiting ambulance.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman