Islamic State forces more than 600,000 Iraqi minority members to flee

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By Samer Saaid

Azzaman, August 11, 2014

More than 600,000 people belonging to Iraqi minorities in the Province of Nineveh have been uprooted, according to haneen al-Qaddo, who served as Nineveh’s deputy governor before the advent of the Islamic State (IS).

Qaddo is a member of the Shabek Minority, whose members are mainly Muslim Shiites and many of them say they are ethnically Kurds.

The Shabeks have lived in Mosul, Nineveh’s provincial capital, and the villages and towns in its fertile plateau.

Nineveh plain has traditionally been home to ancient Iraqi minorities among them Yazidis and Christians. The plain was a mosaic of cultures, ethnicities and religions before militants from IS, formerly known as ISIS, forced them to flee.

Qaddo said about 150,000 people from his own community have been displaced as well as 200,000 Yazidis and 250,000 Turkmen.

He said the numbers did not include Christians, whose major villages and towns have already been emptied.

Iraqi church sources estimate that at least 100,000 Christians are on the move.

This is the largest displacement of minorities in Iraq since the 2003-U.S. invasion.

It was also the harshest and most tragic with IS militants committing horrific crimes bordering on genocide against Yazidis, who they see as infidels.

Turkmen and Shabeks, who are mostly Muslim Shiites, bore the brunt of Sunni Jihadists from IS.

“Rape, killings and pillage of Yazidis, Shabeks, Turkmen and Christians and their villages go on unabated,” Qaddo said.

Qaddo had fled Mosul, the provincial capital, and is currently in Arbil, the seat of the Kurdish autonomous region.

Meanwhile, conditions for the populations in the areas IS controls are worsening. Reports from inside Mosul speak of shortages of food as the government has stopped ferrying food supplies to areas IS has occupied.

IS now controls large swathes of Iraqi territory with its militants in full control of Nineveh Province and having the upper hand in the provinces of Anbar, Salahudeen and Diyala.

IS militants and in large numbers are reported to be close to the Kurdish city of Arbil and the oil-rich city of Kirkuk and close to some of Baghdad’s major suburbs.