ISIS militants advanced into the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar last week, sending thousands of people from the Yazidi minority fleeing to Mount Sinjar. The lucky ones, helped by the US air raids, fled into Syria or into the Kurdish-controlled areas of northern Iraq. Some of the Yazidis are still stuck on the mountain, with no access to food or water.
The Yazidis, one of the world’s smallest and oldest monotheistic religious minorities, are concentrated in northern Iraq, in and around Sinjar. Ethnically, Yazidis are often identified as Kurds as they speak Kurdish. There are about 600,000 Yazidis worldwide.
The Kurds, who form about 15-20 per cent of Iraq’s population, are concentrated in northern Iraq. The region has its own government (Kurdistan Regional Government) and armed forces (peshmerga). Since June, the peshmergas have been defending a 600-mile frontline from the ISIS.
But with the ISIS pushing toward Erbil, the capital of the Kurdistan region, the US launched airstrikes to slow the insurgents’ advance. The peshmergas also secured an escape route for 20,000 Yazidis. Syrian Kurds too have helped people use parts of northeastern Syria to reach out to the Kurdish areas of northern Iraq.
ISIS fighters overran Qaraqosh, the largest Christian city of Iraq, last week, causing thousands of Christians in the city to flee. Qaraqosh is a historic Assyrian town of 50,000 people. When ISIS took over Mosul, they allegedly issued an ultimatum to Christians, asking them to “convert to continued…