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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

8/27/2014 (6 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Those who don't conform face death, unraveling fabric of culturally rich region

Islamic State forces have advanced further into Syria and overtaken cities in northern Iraq. Those who don't submit to their militant cause are tortured, imprisoned or killed. The border between northwestern Iraq and northeastern Syria has effectively disappeared. As a result, Iraq's culturally diverse and complex society lies in tatters at the feet of the invaders.

Yazidis who were assisted by the YPG are now shifting their allegiance to the group. Since coming off the mountain, hundreds of Yazidi have received training at YPG military training camps; some have already returned to Mount Sinjar to fight as new recruits for the YPG.

Yazidis who were assisted by the YPG are now shifting their allegiance to the group. Since coming off the mountain, hundreds of Yazidi have received training at YPG military training camps; some have already returned to Mount Sinjar to fight as new recruits for the YPG.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

8/27/2014 (6 months ago)

Published in Middle East

Keywords: Iraq, Kurds, IS, Yazidis, Christians


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Earlier, tens of thousands of Yazidis were left stranded on Mount Sinjar, surrounded by IS fighters and facing death from malnutrition, dehydration and exposure. While the United States launched airstrikes to repel IS forces and dropped pallets of food and water, it was a group of Syrian Kurdish fighters known as the People's Protection Units, or YPG, who fought through IS-controlled territory in Syria to establish a safe corridor to rescue many of the Yazidis from the mountain.

The civil war that has fractured since neighboring Syria since 2011 has provided the YPG an opportunity to dramatically expand its territory. The borders of a new independent Syrian Kurdish "Rojava" - or "West" in Kurdish - are now being challenged by another opportunistic organization also trying to carve out a country from the wreckage of Syria's civil war: IS. The YPG and IS have been at war with one another since last year.

SAVE Iraqi Christians from Genocide --

Yazidis who were assisted by the YPG are now shifting their allegiance to the group. Since coming off the mountain, hundreds of Yazidi have received training at YPG military training camps; some have already returned to Mount Sinjar to fight as new recruits for the YPG.

"I belong to the YPG because they were the only ones who would protect us," one recruit said. "From this moment, I am not Iraqi."

An increasing number of Assyrian Christians in northeastern Syria are likewise joining the YPG. "We have to choose one side," another recruit says, and "the Kurds are who I fear the least."

It's a sentiment felt by members of most groups living across the Syrian-Iraqi borderlands with the important exception of one: Iraqi Sunni Muslim Arabs.

Before the Battle of Sinjar, IS had only managed to conquer parts of Iraq with a significant Sunni Arab population by capitalizing on the grievances of Iraq's Sunnis. After the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, Sunnis were sidelined and purged from positions of power by Nouri al-Maliki, Iraq's Shia prime minister for eight years until he agreed to relinquish power this month. His government has also been accused of systematically targeting, imprisoning and torturing tens of thousands of Sunni men and women.

"The Islamic State has gotten rid of sectarianism," one survivor says. "Now there are no Shia. There are no Kurds . no Shabak, no Yazidi, no Christian. And we are all Sunni."

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