Amnesty International said it had fresh evidence that militants from an al-Qaeda breakaway group are carrying out a “wave of ethnic cleansing” against minorities in northern Iraq.
The human rights group said in a report today that the Islamic State had systematically targeted Iraqi Christians and members of the Yazidi religious minority following the capture of large swathes of northern Iraq by militants. The plight of thousands of Yazidis, who fled their homes in the northern town of Sinjar, prompted an international relief effort and U.S. airstrikes.
“The Islamic State is carrying out despicable crimes and has transformed rural areas of Sinjar into blood-soaked killing fields in its brutal campaign to obliterate all trace of non-Arabs and non-Sunni Muslims,” said Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International’s senior crisis response adviser currently in northern in Iraq.
The militants have declared an Islamic caliphate in areas of Iraq and Syria that they control. Thousands have died in the fighting in both countries, and over 1.6 million people have been displaced in Iraq, according to the International Organization for Migration.