A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Thursday, August 7, 2014

"Some" Yazidis Rescued; Qaraqosh Falls to ISIS as Christians Flee; Turkey Sending F-16s

 There seems to have been a lot of movement in and around northern Iraq in the past 24 hours, with seemingly conflicting reports about what is happening in and around the Jabal Sinjar, where as many as 40,000 to 50,000 Yazidi refugees were trapped in recent days. Now the United Nations says that "some" of the trapped Yazidis have been rescued, though in the fog of war it is unclear how many "some" may be.

The Islamic State forces are still being challenged in the Sinjar region by Kurdish peshmergas, and some reports are saying Syrian and Turkish Kurds have joined forces with their Iraqi counterparts to rescue the Yazidis, Syrian Kurds already have been heavily engaged against ISIS inside Syria.

Prior to these reports of the rescue of "some" of the trapped Yazidis, there were reports that the refugees were beginning to starve and die of thirst on the barren mountaintop, that some had resorted to eating leaves, (Note that "Shingal" mentioned in some of these links is the Kurdish form of the name of Jabal Sinjar.)

Turkey has said that it is airdropping aid to the stranded Yazidis and to Turkmen refugees, and is resettling some refugees inside Turkey, but Kurdish sites have also reported Turkish F-16s from the Diyarbakır airbase had conducted reconnaissance missions over the battlefield and might even conduct air strikes. The US Administration is also considering humanitarian air drops and even possible air strikes.

Meanwhile the reported fall of the largely Christian city of Qaraqosh to ISIS has created a new mass exodus of the city's Christian population, reportedly leaving the city emptied. Some reports say ISIS has also taken Kalak, which would put them across the Greater Zab River and within about 35 km of the Kurdish capital of Erbil.

Things are clearly developing rapidly (and dangerously), and it remains difficult to sort out the multiple  and often conflicting reports.

No comments: