ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan24) – According to a study published by the Public Library of Science journal PLoS Medicine on Tuesday, at least 9,900 Yezidis (Ezidis) were killed or kidnapped in a blitzkrieg attack after the Islamic State (IS) emerged in northern Iraq in 2014.
The study, which is the first to document the number of Ezidis affected, states that about 3,100 of them were killed and about 6,800 kidnapped by the extremist group to become slaves or fighters.
“Until now, there has not been clarity on the numbers of Ezidis killed and captured by [IS] during the attack on Mount Sinjar,” said lead researcher Valeria Cetorelli, a demographer from John Hopkins University and the London School of Economics and Political Science.
“What we wanted to do, in anticipation of a possible trial, is provide the best estimates that we can get of the people affected,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Cetorelli said she spent three months in 2015 interviewing a random sample of 1,300 surviving Ezidi families in Iraqi camps, and found at least 2.5 percent of the minority group were killed or enslaved.
“Our findings are consistent with other evidence, for example, what is being found in mass graves or accounts from survivors, people who managed to escape captivity,” she stated.
“So, all this together can help support a formal genocide investigation by either the International Criminal Court or another appointed judicial authority,” Cetorelli added.
Nadia Murad, a survivor of the extremist group’s atrocities, working with her counsel, international human rights lawyer Amal Clooney announced in June 2016 to seek prosecution against IS through the International Criminal Court for their crimes against the Ezidi community.
Previously, UN investigators released estimates that over 5,000 Ezidis have been rounded up and slaughtered and some 7,000 women and girls forced into sex slavery.
According to the Kurdistan Region’s Prime Minister’s office, out of over 6,400 Ezidis held captive by IS extremists, only 3,000 have been rescued.
In August 2014, IS targeted the Ezidi-populated city of Sinjar (Shingal) and displaced thousands of people of the minority group.
In 2016, the United Nations Commission confirmed the insurgent group carried out genocide against the Ezidi minority in Iraq.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany