Kurdish forces torch Arab homes and refuse return of those displaced to their areas

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By Samer Saeed

Azzaman, August 18, 2014

Kurdish militias are torching homes of Arabs in the villages they retake as they advance towards the city of Mosul aided by heavy U.S. air bombardment.

The burning of Arab houses has taken place in areas belonging to the districts of Kuwair and Zammarat which militants from the Islamic (IS) had overrun on August 10.

IS, formerly known as ISIS, pushed back Kurdish militias from all the so-called disputed areas in the Province of Nineveh of which Mosul is the capital but emboldened by U.S. airstrikes they have regained control of a few villages and retaken the strategic Mosul Dam.

Reports speak of a large exodus of Arabs from their villages fearing Kurdish reprisals particularly within the plateau adjacent to Mosul Dam west of the city of Mosul.

Sources say IS militants are withdrawing from open areas and thinly populated villages to bigger urban centers as the U.S. intensify its air battle against them.

The militias, locally known as peshmerga, are even reported to have refused the return of Arabs displaced by IS to their homes in the areas they have regained recently.

The move will worsen already heightened ethnic tensions in northern Iraq and play into the hands of IS whose militants describe Kurdish militias as enemies.

IS militants will now find it easy to recruit young people from among the displaced Arabs and win their tribes to their side.

IS has committed atrocities against Iraqi minorities in Mosul and its surrounding villages with tens of thousands of Yazidis, Christians, Turkmen and Shabeks displaced.

IS militants are said to have killed hundreds of members of the Yazidi faith because they refused their demand to convert to Islam.