'At Least 500 Yazidis Killed and Buried in Mass Grave', Thousands Rush to Flee Death
Distressing pictures showed hundreds ferried to safety through the barren and parched mountains but thousands more remain in grave danger.
Last night the Islamic State - formely called ISIS - threatened a fresh wave of violence against the Yazidi people, and it has been claimed 'at least 500' have been killed and buried in a mass grave.
Mohammed Shia al-Sudani, Iraq's human rights minister said Islamic State militants had killed the families.
They have already taken hostage hundreds of Yazidi women and delivered a chilling warning they had “vicious plans” for their captives.
As many as 50,000 of the minority - considered apostates and devil-worshippers by the insurgents - have been holed up near the Turkish border for a week without food or water.
Aid has slowly started to trickle through after Kurdish and American forces intervened after an international outcry at their suffering.
Britain has lent its support to the humanitarian offensive, sending two Hercules transporter planes loaded with clean water, tents and tarpaulins for up to 75,000 people.
Prime Minister David Cameron has also pledged financial aid to support the worldwide humanitarian effort and gave his backing to US air strikes.
US President Barack Obama said more air strikes were likely around the mountains where the Yazidis are trapped but has given no indication as to how long the offensive might last.
He said the intervention was aimed at “preventing an act of genocide”, but added: “Ultimately only Iraqis can ensure the stability and security of Iraq. The United States can’t do it for them.
“We will continue to provide military assistance and advice to the Iraqi government as they battle these terrorists so they cannot establish a safe haven.”
SAS units are working in the region, identifying potential targets for further air strikes aimed at stopping the advances of Islamists towards Kurdish areas or Baghdad.
Many SAS men speak Arabic and know Iraq’s mountains and cities well after two decades of missions.
US Secretary of State John Kerry said: “The extremists’ campaign of terror against the innocent, including the Yazidi and Christian minorities, and its grotesque and targeted acts of violence bear all the warning signs and hallmarks of genocide.
“For anyone who needed a wake-up call, this is it.”
According to the United Nations more than 500,000 people have been displaced by the violence in Iraq since June, bringing the total this year to over one million.
Expanding from their stronghold of Mosul, Islamic State have captured a string of towns and Iraq’s largest hydroelectric dam and reservoir in recent weeks.
The International Rescue Committee said it was providing emergency medical care for up to 4,000 dehydrated Yazidis, mostly women and children, who survived without food or water for up to six days.