Militants Massacre 80 Yazidi Villagers
Women, children are abducted by Islamic State
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 16, 2014 9:36 AM CDT
Displaced Iraqis from the Yazidi community gather at a park near the Turkey-Iraq border as they try to cross to Turkey on Friday.   (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)
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(Newser) – The Yazidis who managed to escape to the mountains seem to be protected from Islamic State militants, but those who stayed in their villages clearly are not. Reports from the village of Kocho in northern Iraq say that extremists executed about 80 Yazidi men yesterday and took away about 300 women and children. "They arrived in vehicles and they started their killing," a Kurdish official tells Reuters. "We believe it's because of their creed: convert or be killed." A resident of a nearby village said the militants had spent the better part of a week trying unsuccessfully to convince the Yazidis in Kocho to convert to their brand of Islam.

“The villagers had received local assurances that they were safe,” Hoshyar Zebari, Iraq’s former foreign minister, tells the Washington Post. “Maybe they killed them in revenge for the setbacks they have suffered from the airstrikes.” The accounts have not been confirmed, though NPR notes that Iraqi officials reported an even larger massacre last week. Elsewhere, the AP reports airstrikes near the giant Mosul Dam in an apparent attempt to wrest control of it back from the militants. It wasn't clear whether US or Iraqi planes were involved.