“Women and children were buried alive in scattered mass graves.”
This comes from a UK journalist embedded with the Iraqi military. I wouldn't treat it as final. Some other reports really raise questions about the 70% number and even the quotes in his own account don't lead me to believe that such a huge number have died.
But it's safe to say that quite a few are dead.
Mount Sinjar stinks of death. The few Yazidis who have managed to escape its clutches can tell you why. “Dogs were eating the bodies of the dead,” said Haji Khedev Haydev, 65, who ran through the lines of Islamic State jihadists surrounding it.
On Sunday night, I became the first western journalist to reach the mountains where tens of thousands of Yazidis, a previously obscure Middle Eastern sect, have been taking refuge from the Islamic State forces that seized their largest town, Sinjar.
I was on board an Iraqi Army helicopter, and watched as hundreds of refugees ran towards it to receive one of the few deliveries of aid to make it to the mountain. The helicopter dropped water and food from its open gun bays to them as they waited below. General Ahmed Ithwany, who led the mission, told me: “It is death valley. Up to 70 per cent of them are dead.”
Two American aid flights have also made it to the mountain, where they have dropped off more than 36,000 meals and 7,000 gallons of drinking water to help the refugees, and last night two RAF C-130 transport planes were also on the way.
However, Iraqi officials said that much of the US aid had been “useless” because it was dropped from 15,000ft without parachutes and exploded on impact.
That is certainly worth following up on. It's hard to believe that the US military would be so incompetent. Unless it was following orders.
The various refugee stories suggest that we are looking at hundreds of bodies. Possibly more. Meanwhile independently of that we have reports of ISIS massacring some 500 Yazidis, including burying some of them alive.
Islamic State militants have killed at least 500 members of Iraq's Yazidi ethnic minority during their offensive in the north, Iraq's human rights minister told Reuters on Sunday.
Mohammed Shia al-Sudani said the Sunni militants had also buried alive some of their victims, including women and children. Some 300 women were kidnapped as slaves, he added.
"Some of the victims, including women and children were buried alive in scattered mass graves in and around Sinjar," Sudani said.
Obviously the Iraqi government has every reason to emphasize the plight of the Yazidi. It has less reason to actually help them.
The Yazidi, like the Christians, find themselves being used as counters in a Muslim civil war.