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Amnesty: 'Wave of ethnic cleansing' in northern Iraq

Amnesty International has said a "wave of ethnic cleansing against minorities is sweeping across northern Iraq" after the charity uncovered evidence of mass killings in the region.

Many Yazidis who have been displaced live in terrible conditions after surviving massacres and abductions.
Many Yazidis who have been displaced live in terrible conditions after surviving massacres and abductions. Credit: Amnesty International

The massacres and abductions being carried out by the Islamic State provide harrowing new evidence that a wave of ethnic cleansing against minorities is sweeping across northern Iraq.

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.

– Amnesty International’s senior crisis response adviser Donatella Rovera

Iraq massacre survivor describes the horror of ordeal

A Yazidi survivor of a massacre has described the horror of hearing the injured crying out in pain but being unable to do anything.

Some could not move and could not save themselves; they lay there in agony waiting to die. They died a horrible death.

I managed to drag myself away and was saved by a Muslim neighbour; he risked his life to save me - he is more than a brother to me.

For 12 days he brought me food and water every night.

I could not walk and had no hope of getting away and it was becoming increasingly dangerous for him to continue to keep me there.

– Salem speaks to Amnesty International

He eventually escaped by donkey and rode to the mountains and over to the areas controlled by the Kurdistan Regional Government.

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Amnesty: Several mass killings by IS in Iraq last month

Amnesty International said it has gathered evidence that Islamic State militants were responsible for several mass killings that took place in Sinjar, northern Iraq, in August.

Two of the deadliest incidents took place in the villages of Qiniyeh on 3 August and Kocho on 15 August, the charity said.

Survivors of the massacres in hospital beds.
Survivors of the massacres told Amnesty International of their experiences. Credit: Amnesty International

Survivors told Amnesty International that groups of men and boys from both villages were seized by militants, taken away and shot.

“There was no order, they [the fighters] just filled up vehicles indiscriminately,” one survivor of the massacre in Kocho said.

'Ethnic cleansing on a historic scale' uncovered in Iraq

Islamic State militants are carrying out “ethnic cleansing on a historic scale” in northern Iraq, according to new evidence discovered by Amnesty International.

Sawsan cries as she tells Amnesty International her husband was abducted.
Sawsan cries as she tells Amnesty International her husband was abducted. Credit: Amnesty International

Survivors told the charity that ethnic minorities in the area were being “systematically and deliberately” targeted by the group.

Elias Saleh told the charity he survived a massacre in Kocho.
Elias Saleh told the charity he survived a massacre in Kocho. Credit: Amnesty International

Some described how men and boys were taken to the outskirts of villages in pick-up trucks, forced to squat over the edge of graves and shot execution-style.

Many families have been displaced in northern Iraq as they flee from fighting.
Many families have been displaced in northern Iraq as they flee from fighting. Credit: Amnesty International

Others said women and girls from the Yazidi minority were taken away from their families as slaves for the militants and threatened with rape.

Suicide bomb in central Iraq 'kills 37'

A suicide bomb attack in the central Iraqi city of Ramadi has killed 37 people, police and medical sources said.

Twenty-two security personnel and 15 civilians were killed when the bomber rammed an explosives-packed Humvee military vehicle into a construction site used by the army and police, the sources said.

Ramadi and its sister city Falluja have been plagued by fighting between the security forces and the extremist Islamic State and other armed groups since January.

Read: Iraqi forces reach jihadist-besieged town of Amerli

Mother of US hostage urges IS leader to release her son

The mother of a US hostage being held by Islamic State militants has urged their leader Abu Bakral-Baghdadi to use his "authority" and free her 31-year-old son.

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Mother of US hostage Steven Sortoff appeals to #ISIS leader al-Baghdadi “to use your authority to spare his life.” http://t.co/SbCANprIge

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According to the New York Times, Shirley Sotloff addresses Mr. Baghdadi as caliph and calls on him to exercise his right to show clemency, as other previous caliphs have, stretching back to the immediate successors of the Prophet Muhammad.

In an emotional video she says:

As a mother, I ask your justice to be merciful and not punish my son for matters he has no control over. I ask you to use your authority to spare his life and to follow the example set by the Prophet Muhammad, who protected the People of the Book.

– Shirley Sotloff, mother of US journalist held by IS militants

More: US begins surveillance missions over Syria

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Released US journalist 'overwhelmed' by welcome home

Peter Theo Curtis, back home in the US
Credit: Reuters

A journalist released earlier this week after almost two years of imprisonment in Syria said he was overwhelmed by the outpouring of attention he has recieved upon returning home.

Peter Theo Curtis, 45, returned to the United States late Tuesday after being released on Sunday.

He was captured in 2012 and held by Nusra Front, al Qaeda's official wing in Syria and rivals to the militant group Islamic State.

Speaking for the first time publicly at a briefing outside his family's home in Massachusetts, he said:

"I am overwhelmed with emotion.

I suddenly remember how good the American people are, and what kindness they have in their hearts -- and to all those people I say a huge thank you from ...the bottom of my heart.

– Peter Theo Curtis

More: American 'killed fighting alongside Islamic State jihadists'

American man 'killed fighting alongside IS militants'

An American man suspected of fighting with Islamic State militants operating in Iraq and Syria has been killed in the Middle East, a US security official has said.

Douglas McAuthur McCain is said to have been killed fighting alongside IS militants.
Douglas McAuthur McCain is said to have been killed fighting alongside IS militants. Credit: Reuters

The official, who asked not to be identified, told the Reuters news agency that the FBI was investigating the death of 33-year-old Douglas McAuthur McCain.

A spokeswoman for the US State Department could not confirm media reports that McCain had been killed in Syria but said the department had been in contact with his family and was providing "all consular assistance."

According to NBC News, McCain was born in Illinois and moved with his family to the Twin Cities area, where he graduated from high school in the Minneapolis suburb of New Hope in 1999.

He is said to have later moved to the San Diego area, where he attended community college.

US begins surveillance missions over Syria

The US has begun surveillance missions over Syria after President Obama vowed to catch the killers of journalist James Foley.

He said: "Rooting out a cancer like ISIL (The US acronym for the Islamic State) won't be easy and it won't be quick. America does not forget. Our reach is long, we are patient and justice will be done."

ITV News Washington Correspondent Robert Moore reports

Obama vows to root out Islamic State 'cancer'

President Barack Obama has vowed that the US will go after the killers of American journalist James Foley, but said rooting out the Islamic State "cancer" would not be easy.

President Obama vowed to hunt down Us journalist James Foley's killers.
President Obama vowed to hunt down Us journalist James Foley's killers. Credit: Reuters

He said: "America does not forget, our reach is long, we are patient, justice will be done."

He added that he would do whatever is necessary to go after those who harm Americans, at a convention of the American Legion in Charlotte, North Carolina.

He added: "Rooting out a cancer like ISIL won't be easy and it won't be quick," referring to an acronym the United States uses for the Islamic State.

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