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Sunday, 24 August 2014

UN call to ‘prevent Iraq massacre’

Iraq conflict: UN warns of possible Amerli ‘massacre’
The UN has called for action to prevent what it says may be a possible massacre in the northern Iraqi town of Amerli.

Special representative Nickolay Mladenov says he is “seriously alarmed” by reports regarding the conditions in which the town’s residents live.
The town, under siege by Islamic State for two months, has no electricity or drinking water, and is running out of food and medical supplies.
The majority of its residents are Turkmen Shia, seen as apostates by IS.
Dr Ali Albayati, Amerli resident: “We don’t have enough food because the city is under siege…there is no way to leave”
“The situation of the people in Amerli is desperate and demands immediate action to prevent the possible massacre of its citizens,”Mr Mladenov said in a statement.
“I urge the Iraqi government to do all it can to relieve the siege and to ensure that the residents receive life-saving humanitarian assistance or are evacuated in a dignified manner.”
On Friday, the most influential Shia cleric in Iraq, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, expressed concern over the plight of the town’s inhabitants.
Residents say they have had to organise their own resistance to the militants and no foreign aid has reached the town since the siege began.
  • Formed out of al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) in 2013, IS first captured Raqqa in eastern Syria
  • By early 2014, it controlled Falluja in western Iraq
  • Has since captured broad swathes of Iraq, seizing the northern city of Mosul in June
  • Fighting has displaced at least 1.2 million Iraqis
  • Pursuing an extreme form of Sunni Islam, IS has persecuted non-Muslims such as Yazidis and Christians, as well as Shia Muslims, whom it regards as heretics
  • In July alone, IS expanded dramatically, recruiting some 6,300 new fighters largely in Raqqa, an activist monitoring group said
Fate of refugees
IS has seized large swathes of Iraq and Syria in recent months. Since 8 August, the US has carried out air strikes to support Iraqi and Kurdish troops tackling the insurgents.
On Thursday, US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel described the group as an imminent threat to the US.
Gen Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said IS was “an organisation that has an apocalyptic, end-of-days strategic vision and which will eventually have to be defeated”.
He also said that IS fighters could not be defeated without attacking their bases in Syria. The militants, he said, should be confronted “on both sides of what is essentially at this point a non-existent border”.
The Shia-dominated Iraqi government has been trying to secure backing from Sunni groups in its battle against IS jihadists.
Prime Minister designate Haider al-Abadi, a moderate Shia, is trying to form a more inclusive government – following international criticism of outgoing PM Nouri Maliki, who was widely seen as a divisive figure.
The rise of the IS has sparked widespread violence. An attack by suspected Shia militiamen on a Sunni mosque in Iraq’s Diyala province killed at least 68 people on Friday.
On Saturday, a suicide bomber blew up a car in central Baghdad, killing at least nine people and injuring several others.
The IS campaign has displaced an estimated 1.2 million people in Iraq, many of them minority Christians and Yazidis.
Refugees say the hardline Islamists have demanded that Christians and Yazidis convert to Islam, threatening them with death if they refuse.
France welcomed about 40 Iraqi Christian refugees on Friday.
But Germany’s Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere opposed granting sanctuary to large numbers of refugees from Iraq.
This would give militants “an intolerable victory”, Mr de Maiziere told Germany’s most popular newspaper Bild am Sonntag.
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