Fears are growing for the 300 Yazidi women reportedly kidnapped by Islamic State fighters last week amid claims they would be used to bear children to break up the ancient sect’s bloodline.
The minority group is originally Aryan and has retained a fairer complexion, blonde hair and blue eyes by only marrying within the community.
But in a furious bid to convert all non-Muslims, ISIS jihadists have vowed to impregnate the hostages.
Some 45,000 Yazidi refugees have finally been able to escape from Mount Sinjar after U.S. air strikes and a fightback by Kurdish forces appeared to have broken the ten-day siege by Islamic militants.
However, as the women remain trapped, Kurdish militia are calling on Western forces to give them arms rather than plotting rescue missions.
Addressing the kidnapping, Adnan Kochar, chairman of the Kurdish Cultural Centre in London, told MailOnline: ‘The Kurds and Yazidis are originally Aryans. But because the Yazidis are such a closed community they have retained a fairer complexion, blonder hair and bluer eyes. They don’t marry non-Yazidis.
‘ISIS have taken around 300 women from Sinjar to give to jihadists to marry and make pregnant to have a Muslim child. If they can’t kill all Yazidis, they will try to smash the blond bloodline.’
According to reports, a small band of Iraqis stranded on the barren mountain top are apparently either too scared or too proud to come down.
U.S. officials claim some Yazidis have indicated to American forces tasked with rescuing them that they see the mountain as a safe haven and were reluctant to leave.
The Yazidis adhere to a 4,000-year-old faith passed down and adapted through the generations by word of mouth and composed of elements of several religions.
But they are unjustly regarded as ‘devil worshippers’ on account of their unusual beliefs, which derive from the ancient faith called Zoroastrianism, the religion of Persia long before Islam arrived.
Successive waves of persecution – they claim to have survived 72 genocides – by the Ottoman Turkish rulers of what is now Iraq, by Saddam Hussein and now by Islamic militants, have reduced the number of Yazidi from millions to an estimated 700,000.
Mr Kochar, who was born in Kurdistan, said his great-grandfather was once a Yazidi, but was forced to convert to Islam during an uprising 150 years ago.
His organisation is collecting aid to send to the Yazidi community.
Mr Kochar’s comments came as Islamic State militants began massing near an Iraqi town 70 miles north of Baghdad in an apparent bid to broaden their front with Kurdish peshmerga fighters, security sources and a local official said.
Jihadist forces have made a dramatic push through the north to a position near Erbil, the capital of the semi-autonomous Kurdish region.
The movement around Qara Tappa suggests they are seeking to grab more territory closer to the capital despite being pounded by air strikes further north at Mount Sinjar.
The ten-day stand-off at the mountain by IS appears to have been crushed after U.S. bomb drops and a fightback by Kurdish forces allowed nearly 45,000 refugees to escape.
But the swelling number of displaced Iraqis has forced the United Nations to declare its highest level of emergency to tackle the humanitarian crisis.
An unnamed security source said Islamic militants were now gathering near Qara Tappa, adding: ‘It seems they are going to broaden their front with the Kurdish fighters.’
Andreas Krieg, a Middle East security analyst at King’s College London in Qatar, said it was likely IS would now focus its resources further south after losing momentum in the north between Mosul and Erbil.
He told MailOnline: ‘It seems that IS has come to a standstill on the Northern Front with peshmerga forces regrouping and the U.S. sporadically eliminating convoys.
‘The massing of troops in Qara Tappa, if confirmed, could be a diversionary move by IS to push against pershmerga forces further south.
‘IS is coming under pressure and they need to show results to fuel their media machine. They certainly want to take over Kurdistan.
‘But that is more wishful thinking than reality. The West will not allow Kurdistan to fall.
‘Nonetheless, IS could make some advances in the South, which for them would be fair enough.’
A U.S. special forces team which flew over the mountain found that only around 5,000 Iraqi refugees remained, tens of thousands fewer than previously thought.
Some Yazidis even indicated to American forces that they saw the mountain as a safe haven and were reluctant to leave, it was reported by the New York Times.
U.S. defence secretary Chuck Hagel said it was now ‘far less likely’ America would undertake a rescue mission.
The declaration of a ‘Level 3 Emergency’ will trigger additional goods, funds and assets to help the displaced, said special representative Nickolay Mladenov, who pointed to the ‘scale and complexity of the current humanitarian catastrophe’.
Mr Hagel said air drops of food and water had sustained the refugees and air strikes on Islamic State (IS) group militants had allowed many to escape.
British Prime Minister David Cameron yesterday revealed Britain had been working on ‘detailed plans’ to airlift up to 30,000 desperate Yazidis from the mountain.
But Government sources told MailOnline that the number of people left stranded was now in the ‘low thousands’.
Britain will now concentrate on getting vital supplies like water and food to up to a million Iraqis that have been driven from their homes.
It was confirmed last night that SAS and SBS troops are already on the ground, supported by specialist signals and reconnaissance forces.
Since June, Iraq has been facing an onslaught by the Islamic State group and allied Sunni militants across much of the country’s north and west.
In recent weeks, the crisis has worsened as the militant fighters swept through new towns in the north, displacing members of the minority Christian and Yazidi religious communities and threatening the neighbouring Iraqi Kurdish autonomy zone.
Tens of thousands of Yazidis fled the advance to take refuge in the remote desert Sinjar mountain range.
The U.S. and Iraqi military have dropped food and water supplies and in recent days Kurds from neighbouring Syria battled to open a corridor to the mountain, allowing some 45,000 to escape.
The UN said it would provide increased support to those who escaped Sinjar and to 400,000 other Iraqis who have fled since June to the Kurdish province of Dahuk.
Others have fled to other parts of the Kurdish region or further south.
A total of 1.5 million have been displaced by the fighting since the insurgents captured Iraq’s second-largest city, Mosul, in June and quickly swept over other parts of the country.
The United States has been carrying out air strikes in recent days against Islamic State fighters, helping fend back their advance on Kurdish regions.
At the same time, Iraq’s central government in Baghdad has been mired in political turmoil, after the president nominated a Shi’ite politician, Haider Abadi, to form the next government, putting him on track to replace embattled prime minister Nouri Maliki.
Mr Maliki said yesterday he would not relinquish power until a federal court ruled on what he called a ‘constitutional violation’ by President Fouad Massoum.
‘Holding on (to the premiership) is an ethical and patriotic duty to defend the rights of voters,’he said in his weekly address to the nation, insisting his actions were meant to ‘protect the state’.
Mr Maliki has grown increasingly isolated, with Iraqi politicians and much of the international community lining up behind Mr Abadi.
Mr Abadi was picked to form a new government that can unite the country in the face of the Sunni militant onslaught, which many say Mr Maliki fuelled by initiating pro-Shi’ite policies that alienated the Sunni minority.
Widespread discontent with Mr Maliki’s rule has reached the point where both Saudi Arabia and Iran – regional rivals often bitterly divided over Iraq – have expressed support for Mr Abadi.
The United States, the European Union and the United Nations have also offered support for new leadership.
In Iran, supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei expressed hope that ‘a government will be formed so that they (Iraqis) can give the necessary and appropriate response to the sedition-makers’.
Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it hoped Mr Abadi would establish ‘a comprehensive national government that includes all components of the Iraqi people’.
The UN Security Council said it was encouraged by President Massoum’s decision to nominate a new prime minister-designate and urged Mr Abadi to work swiftly to form ‘an inclusive government that represents all segments of the Iraqi population and that contributes to finding a viable and sustainable solution to the country’s current challenges’.
Iraqi troops imposed heightened security in Baghdad on Wednesday.
Tanks and Humvees were positioned on Baghdad bridges and at major intersections, with security personnel more visible than usual as about 100 Maliki supporters rallied at Firdous Square.
At a meeting between Mr Maliki and senior military commanders broadcast on state television, the incumbent premier warned that security forces should not get involved in politics.
He also raised the spectre of further unrest by saying Sunni militants or Shiite militiamen might don military uniforms and try to take control of the streets and ‘make things worse’.
Meanwhile attacks in and near Baghdad killed at least 29 people and wounded scores more yesterday.
A car bomb in eastern New Baghdad killed eight while six people, including four police officers, died when a car bomb struck a checkpoint in western Baghdad.
A bomb at a central market killed five people while two died in a bombing in the commercial Karrada district. A car bomb in the Baiyaa neighborhood killed four and four more died in a mortar attack north of the capital.
The European Union’s 28 foreign ministers will hold an emergency meeting on Iraq tomorrow to co-ordinate their stance on military support for the Kurds and providing humanitarian assistance for those fleeing the fighting.
The EU currently has an arms embargo on Iraq but it provides loopholes for equipment sold or transferred to the Iraqi military or international forces in Iraq.
Sending arms directly to the Kurdish forces without going through Baghdad, however, could be seen as a violation of the embargo – thus the need for a decision by the EU ministers.
PERSECUTED FOR THEIR UNUSUAL BELIEFS AND FAIRER COMPLEXION: ANCIENT YAZIDI SECT CLAIMS TO HAVE SURVIVED 72 GENOCIDES IN THEIR 4000-YEAR HISTORY BECAUSE THEY ARE REGARDED AS ‘DEVIL WORSHIPPERS’
Unjustly regarded as ‘devil worshippers’ on account of their unusual beliefs, the Yazidi have for centuries been one of the most persecuted minorities of the Middle East.
Islamic extremists regard them as infidels, worthy only of being killed.
They are an ethnic Kurdish people who tend to have fairer complexions than many in the Middle East.
They regard wearing blue as sacrilege, they never eat cabbage or lettuce because it creates wind and their men often have long beards and wear their hair in plaits – which make them resemble the cartoon characters of ancient Gaul, Asterix and Obelix.
They adhere to a 4,000-year-old faith passed down and adapted through the generations by word of mouth and composed of elements of several religions.
Their reverence for fire and light derives from the ancient faith called Zoroastrianism, the religion of Persia long before Islam arrived.
They combine such Christian practices as baptism with Jewish or Islamic circumcision. Like Buddhists they believe in perpetual reincarnation.
But it is the central tenet of their religion that has led others to brand them devil worshippers.
They believe in one God who illuminated seven angels with his light.
The greatest of the seven is the Peacock Angel, known as Melek Taus, who is dressed in blue (which is why the Yazidi refuse to wear the colour).
His other name is Shaytan, Arabic for the devil or Satan.
The Yazidi believe that God left the Earth in the care of the seven angels and told them to obey Adam.
The Peacock Angel refused, stating that Adam was created from the soil, and God’s light could never be at the mercy of the soil.
He was cast out for his disobedience, but was quickly reconciled with God who respected his argument – which proved he was, in fact, the most loyal angel of all.
This is why the idea that he was akin to Lucifer is so misleading.
Tragically, the Yazidi are also victims of another misunderstanding, over their name.
Sunni extremists believe it derives from a deeply unpopular seventh century caliph – or leader – Yazid ibn Muawiya.
In fact, it comes from the Persian word for angel or deity, ‘Ized’. Their name simply means ‘worshippers of God’.
Yet no such theological distinction interests Islamic State fighters in a Middle East where minor divergences between Sunni and Shia Muslims are a matter of life and death, and the region’s 12million Christians are diminishing by the day.
In such a murderous atmosphere, ‘Satan worshippers’ are inevitably the targets of genocidal fanatics.
Even to ordinary Iraqis, they are seen as bogeymen to frighten children with.
The Yazidi once lived in a wide area across Iraq, Syria, Turkey, Georgia and Armenia.
But successive waves of persecution – they claim to have survived 72 genocides – by the Ottoman Turkish rulers of what is now Iraq, by Saddam Hussein and now by Islamic militants, have reduced the number of Yazidi from millions to an estimated 700,000.
In recent years, some 70,000 have fled to Europe, where 40,000 live in western Germany.
This is not surprising. Since the Yazidi welcomed the US invasion of Iraq after 2003 and admire Israel, they attracted the malevolence of Al Qaeda and other jihadists before the Islamic State came on the scene; in 2007 massive truck bombs killed 500.
What makes the Yazidi still more vulnerable is the insular nature of their community. No one can convert to their religion, you have to be born into it. They also practice endogamy, that is, they only marry members of the same faith.
They believe that when someone dies, their soul passes into a new member of the community and that purification of the soul is only possible through continual rebirth.
The worst possible fate, therefore, is to be expelled from the community because the soul can never then be purified or saved.
Equally, anyone who voluntarily leaves the religion risks death. In 2007, it was reported that Du’a Khalil Aswad, a Yazidi woman, was stoned to death for converting to Islam and marrying a Muslim man.
Feared, villified and slaughtered for centuries, it is in many ways remarkable such a strong community of Yazidis still exists at all. But now, with the Islamic State’s determination to wipe them out, they perhaps face their greatest test of all.
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