As the fight against ISIL continues, rival Kurdish parties attempt to win the loyalty of the Yazidi religious group.
Armed members of Iraq’s Yazidi community – which suffered atrocities by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group last year – have themselves been accused of massacring Sunni Arab villagers, including physically disabled civilians and children, in revenge attacks.
Amnesty International, a London-based human rights group, released a statement on Wednesday saying it investigated attacks carried out on January 25 by a Yazidi militia in Jiri and Sibaya, two Sunni Arab villages in the Sinjar region of northern Iraq.
“Virtually not a single house was spared. Half of those killed were elderly or disabled men and women and children,” Amnesty said in the report.
It said another 40 were abducted, 17 of whom are still missing. Among other witnesses, Amnesty spoke to a father who lost two sons aged 15 and 20 in the attack. Their 12-year-old brother was shot four times in the back but survived.
‘Targeting old and sick’
“We could not imagine the assailants would target the old and the sick but they did,” one man told Amnesty, describing how his 66-year-old father was shot dead in his wheelchair.
“It is deeply troubling to see members of the Yazidi community, who have suffered so much at the hands of the ISIL, now themselves committing such brutal crimes,” Donatella Rovera, Amnesty’s senior crisis adviser, said.
The Yazidis, a religious minority which lives mainly in Iraq’s Sinjar region, are neither Muslims nor Arabs and follow a unique faith abhorred by ISIL.
In 2014, ISIL fighters massacred Yazidis, forced tens of thousands of them to flee, captured thousands of girls and women as spoils of war and used them as sex slaves.
The UN has said the atrocities committed against the small community may amount to genocide.