Iraqi Shiites facing “genocide” in ISIS-controlled areas

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By Abbas al-Baghdadi

Azzaman, July 16, 2014

New sectarian lines are being drawn as militants from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) consolidate their control of large swaths of territory in north and west Iraq.

ISIS has occupied the Provinces of Nineveh, Salahuddeen, Anbar and its forces control large areas in the provinces of Kirkuk and Diyala.

Nineveh, Kirkuk and Diyala are mixed provinces where Shiites and Sunnis have lived peacefully together for centuries. Nineveh has traditionally been a mosaic of cultures, religions and sects with Christians, Muslims, Yazidis and other sects coexisting.

ISIS is reportedly persecuting those who refuse its way of life or differ from its strict interpretations of Islam. For instance, it sees Muslim Shiites and Yazidis as infidels.

Crosses from churches in Mosul are being removed and Muslim shrines of sects opposing its interpretations are desecrated and destroyed.

However, it is mainly the Shiites who are bearing the brunt of ISIS Jihadists. Mosul, Nineveh’s provincial capital, is predominantly Sunni, but numerous towns and villages in its suburbs are inhabited by Shiites.

There has been large-scale displacement with tens of thousands of Shiite families from Nineveh on the move on their way to the south, which is predominantly Shiite.

Some Shiite groups say the Shiites in northern Iraq are facing “genocide” at the hands of ISIS.

“We strongly condemn what our Shiite sons are undergoing in the towns and villages of Tal Affar, al-Bashir, Amerli and other districts with majority Shiite populations as represented in the operations of organized genocide,” the group said in a statement faxed to the newspaper.

It said the Shiites in these areas were fleeing in tens of thousands, leaving their properties and belonging behind.

It said some towns and villages were encircled by ISIS and urged the government to send in troops to break the siege before the militants perpetrate “other massacres.”