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Airstrikes near militant-held Iraq dam

AP , Saturday 16 Aug 2014
The Mosul dam
The Mosul dam (Photo:AP)
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Views: 1321

Residents living near Iraq's Mosul dam, held by the Islamic State group, say the area is being targeting in airstrikes.

The residents say the airstrikes hit Saturday afternoon.

They spoke on condition of anonymity out of fears for their safety.

The Islamic State group seized the dam on the Tigris River on Aug. 7 as part of their offensive that's seized large swaths of Iraq.

The residents near the dam say the airstrikes killed militants, but that could not be immediately confirmed.

Iraqi officials said Saturday that survivors of an Islamic State group attack on a northern village told them the militants killed over 80 Yazidi men there, warning that the minority group remains in danger.

The officials, a Yazidi lawmaker and an official with Kurdish security forces, said that the attack happened Friday afternoon in the village of Kocho. Both said they based their information on the accounts of survivors.

Kocho is in an area held by the Islamic State group where journalists cannot operate.

Islamic State group fighters besieged the village for several days and gave its Yazidi residents a deadline to convert to Islam, Yazidi lawmaker Mahma Khalil said Saturday.

"When the residents refused to do this, the massacre took place," Khalil said.

Halgurd Hekmat, a spokesman for Kurdish security forces, said Friday night that the militants captured the women and children of Kocho took them to the nearby city of Tal Afar, which is controlled by the Islamic State group.

Tens of thousands of Yazidis fled when the Islamic State group earlier this month captured the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar, near the Syrian border. The Yazidis practice an ancient religion that the Sunni Muslim radicals consider heretical. They also consider Shiite Muslims as apostates.

The United Nations in recent days declared the situation in Iraq a "Level 3 Emergency" — a decision that came after some 45,000 members of the Yazidi religious minority were able to escape from a remote desert mountaintop where they had been encircled by Islamic State fighters.

The UN said it would provide increased support to the Yazidis and to 400,000 other Iraqis who have fled since June to the Kurdish province of Dahuk. A total of 1.5 million people have been displaced by the fighting.

Meanwhile Saturday, Britain's Ministry of Defense said it deployed a US-made spy plane over northern Iraq to monitor the humanitarian crisis and movements of Islamic State militants. It said the converted Boeing KC-135 tanker, called a Rivet Joint, would monitor mobile phone calls and other communication.

Two British planes also landed Saturday in Erbil carrying humanitarian supplies.

Khalil, the Yazidi lawmaker, said the US must do more to protect those fleeing the Islamic State group.

"We have been calling on the US administration and Iraqi government to intervene and help the innocent people, but it seems that nobody is listening," Khalil said.

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