Group accuses extremists of war crimes in Iraq

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Group accuses extremists of war crimes in Iraq
BAGHDAD, IRAQ - OCTOBER 12 : A site of a car bomb attack is seen in the Shula neighbourhood of Baghdad, Iraq on October 12, 2014. A series of car bomb attacks in Iraq's capital killed and wounded dozens of people, authorities said. (Photo by Stringer/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
BAGHDAD, IRAQ - OCTOBER 12 : A site of a car bomb attack is seen in the Shula neighbourhood of Baghdad, Iraq on October 12, 2014. A series of car bomb attacks in Iraq's capital killed and wounded dozens of people, authorities said. (Photo by Stringer/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
BAGHDAD, IRAQ - OCTOBER 12 : A site of a car bomb attack is seen in the Shula neighbourhood of Baghdad, Iraq on October 12, 2014. A series of car bomb attacks in Iraq's capital killed and wounded dozens of people, authorities said. (Photo by Stringer/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
This undated image posted Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014 by the Raqqa Media Center of the Islamic State group, a Syrian opposition group, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, shows Abu Moussa al-Ansari, a fighter from the Islamic State group, who they say was killed in the battle for the Tabqa air base, in Raqqa, Syria. A U.N. commission on Wednesday accused the extremist Islamic State organization of committing crimes against humanity with attacks on civilians, as pictures emerged of the extremists' bloody takeover of a Syrian military air base that added to the international organization’s claims. (AP Photo/ Raqqa Media Center of the Islamic State group)
EDITORS NOTE IMAGES SHOWS GRAPHIC CONTENT - This undated image posted by the Raqqa Media Center of the Islamic State group, a Syrian opposition group, on Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, shows masked gunmen of the Islamic State group shooting seven men kneeling on the ground in front of them, in the aftermath of the group's takeover of the Tabqa air base in Raqqa province, Syria. A U.N. commission on Wednesday accused the extremist Islamic State organization of committing crimes against humanity with attacks on civilians, as pictures emerged of the extremists' bloody takeover of a Syrian military air base that added to the international organization’s claims. (AP Photo/ Raqqa Media Center of the Islamic State group)
Friends and family members of victims in yesterday's suicide bombing grieve as they carry the coffins near the site of the attack during the funeral procession, in the Shula neighborhood of Baghdad, Iraq, Sunday, Oct. 12, 2014. A series of car bomb attacks in Iraq's capital killed and wounded dozens of people in Shiite areas Saturday, authorities said. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)
Friends and relatives take the body for burial of Hussein Ali, a victim of a car bomb yesterday, in the Shula neighborhood in Baghdad, Iraq, Sunday, Oct. 12, 2014. A series of car bomb attacks in Iraq's capital killed and wounded dozens of people in Shiite areas Saturday, authorities said. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)
This undated image posted on Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014 by the Raqqa Media Center, a Syrian opposition group, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, shows a fighter from the Islamic State group, armed with a knife and an automatic weapon, next to captured Syrian army soldiers and officers, following the battle for the Tabqa air base, in Raqqa, Syria. As the U.S. strikes Islamic State militant targets in Iraq, extremists of the same group are unhindered in their growth across the border in Syria, capturing new territory and becoming bolder by the day. (AP Photo/Raqqa Media Center)
This undated image posted Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014 by the Raqqa Media Center of the Islamic State group, a Syrian opposition group, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, shows fighters from the Islamic State group that captured the Tabqa air base from the Syrian government on Sunday, praying inside the air base, in Raqqa, Syria. A U.N. commission on Wednesday accused the extremist Islamic State organization of committing crimes against humanity with attacks on civilians, as pictures emerged of the extremists' bloody takeover of a Syrian military air base that added to the international organization’s claims. (AP Photo/ Raqqa Media Center of the Islamic State group)
This undated image posted on Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014 by the Raqqa Media Center of the Islamic State group, a Syrian opposition group, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, shows fighters of the Islamic State waving the group's flag from a damaged display of a government fighter jet following the battle for the Tabqa air base, in Raqqa, Syria. A U.N. commission on Wednesday accused the extremist Islamic State organization of committing crimes against humanity with attacks on civilians, as pictures emerged of the extremists' bloody takeover of a Syrian military air base that added to the international organization’s claims. (AP Photo/ Raqqa Media Center of the Islamic State group)
This undated image posted Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014 by the Raqqa Media Center of the Islamic State group, a Syrian opposition group, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, shows a munitions warehouse that was captured by the Islamic State group in the battle for the Tabqa air base in Raqqa, Syria on Sunday. A U.N. commission on Wednesday accused the extremist Islamic State organization of committing crimes against humanity with attacks on civilians, as pictures emerged of the extremists' bloody takeover of a Syrian military air base that added to the international organization’s claims. (AP Photo/ Raqqa Media Center of the Islamic State group)
This undated image posted on Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014 by the Raqqa Media Center of the Islamic State group, a Syrian opposition group, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, shows a fighter of the Islamic State group waving their flag from inside a captured government fighter jet following the battle for the Tabqa air base, in Raqqa, Syria on Sunday. A U.N. commission on Wednesday accused the extremist Islamic State organization of committing crimes against humanity with attacks on civilians, as pictures emerged of the extremists' bloody takeover of a Syrian military air base that added to the international organization’s claims. (AP Photo/ Raqqa Media Center of the Islamic State group)
This undated image posted Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014 by the Raqqa Media Center of the Islamic State group, a Syrian opposition group, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, shows fighters from the Islamic State group that captured the Tabqa air base from the Syrian government on Sunday, praying inside the air base, in Raqqa, Syria. A U.N. commission on Wednesday accused the extremist Islamic State organization of committing crimes against humanity with attacks on civilians, as pictures emerged of the extremists' bloody takeover of a Syrian military air base that added to the international organization’s claims. (AP Photo/ Raqqa Media Center of the Islamic State group)
This undated image posted Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014 by the Raqqa Media Center of the Islamic State group, a Syrian opposition group, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, shows fighters from the Islamic State group that captured the Tabqa air base from the Syrian government on Sunday, firing a captured tank, in Raqqa, Syria. A U.N. commission on Wednesday accused the extremist Islamic State organization of committing crimes against humanity with attacks on civilians, as pictures emerged of the extremists' bloody takeover of a Syrian military air base that added to the international organization’s claims. (AP Photo/ Raqqa Media Center of the Islamic State group)
This undated image posted Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014 by the Raqqa Media Center of the Islamic State group, a Syrian opposition group, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, shows munitions that were captured by the Islamic State group in the battle for the Tabqa air base in Raqqa, Syria on Sunday. A U.N. commission on Wednesday accused the extremist Islamic State organization of committing crimes against humanity with attacks on civilians, as pictures emerged of the extremists' bloody takeover of a Syrian military air base that added to the international organization’s claims. (AP Photo/ Raqqa Media Center of the Islamic State group)
This undated image posted Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014 by the Raqqa Media Center of the Islamic State group, a Syrian opposition group, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, shows fighters from the Islamic State group that captured the Tabqa air base from the Syrian government on Sunday, and dead Syrian government forces on the ground, in Raqqa, Syria. A U.N. commission on Wednesday accused the extremist Islamic State organization of committing crimes against humanity with attacks on civilians, as pictures emerged of the extremists' bloody takeover of a Syrian military air base that added to the international organization’s claims. (AP Photo/Raqqa Media Center of the Islamic State group)
Diane and John Foley talk to reporters after speaking with U.S. President Barack Obama Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014 outside their home in Rochester, N.H. Their son, James Foley was abducted in November 2012 while covering the Syrian conflict. Islamic militants posted a video showing his murder on Tuesday and said they killed him because the U.S. had launched airstrikes in northern Iraq. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
Diane and John Foley talk to reporters after speaking with U.S. President Barack Obama Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014 outside their home in Rochester, N.H. Their son, James Foley was abducted in November 2012 while covering the Syrian conflict. Islamic militants posted a video showing his murder on Tuesday and said they killed him because the U.S. had launched airstrikes in northern Iraq. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
FILE - In this Friday, May 27, 2011, file photo, journalist James Foley responds to questions during an interview with The Associated Press, in Boston. A video by Islamic State militants that purports to show the killing of Foley by the militant group was released Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014. Foley, from Rochester, N.H., went missing in 2012 in northern Syria while on assignment for Agence France-Press and the Boston-based media company GlobalPost. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)
FILE - In this May 27, 2011 file photo, American journalist James Foley, of Rochester, N.H., who was last seen on Nov. 22 2012 in northwest Syria, poses for a photo in Boston. Foley's family plans to mark his 40th birthday with a plea for his safe return. His parents, John and Diane Foley, will lead a prayer vigil Friday evening, Oct. 17, 2013 at a church in Rochester. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)
This image provided by the U.S. Defense Department shows pallets of bottled water are loaded aboard a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III aircraft in preparation for a humanitarian airdrop over Iraq Aug. 8, 2014. Airmen with the 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron airdropped 40 bundles of water for displaced citizens in the vicinity of Sinjar, Iraq. American planes conducted a second airdrop of food and water early Saturday for those trapped in the Sinjar mountains, said Pentagon chief spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby. (AP Photo/U.S. Air Force, Staff Sgt. Vernon Young Jr.)
DIYALA, IRAQ - AUGUST 22: Iranian soldiers hit army groups led by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) to give support to peshmergas who fights with ISIL in Diyala, Iraq on 22 August, 2014. Peshmergas struggle to recapture Diyala from army groups led by ISIL. (Photo by Stringer/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MOSUL, IRAQ - AUGUST 26: August 25, 2014 dated pictures show Peshmerga forces' ongoing progression to fight against army forces led by Islamic State (IS) and seize to regain areas in Mosul. Peshmerga forces write on the walls their names and phone numbers in Al-Bakir neighborhood of Mosul, Iraq on August 25, 2014. (Photo by Ensar Ozdemir/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MOSUL, IRAQ - AUGUST 26: August 25, 2014 dated pictures show Peshmerga forces' ongoing progression to fight against army forces led by Islamic State (IS) and seize to regain areas in Mosul. A Peshmerga targeting a point by a M16 in Al-Bakir neighborhood of Mosul, Iraq on August 25, 2014. (Photo by Ensar Ozdemir/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MOSUL, IRAQ - AUGUST 26: August 25, 2014 dated pictures show Peshmerga forces' ongoing progression to fight against army forces led by Islamic State (IS) and seize to regain areas in Mosul. A Peshmerga takes position to fight against IS in Al-Bakir neighborhood of Mosul, Iraq on August 25, 2014. (Photo by Ensar Ozdemir/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Graphic shows recent events in Northern Iraq involving ISIL Kurdish forces and U.S. airstrikes; 3c x 5 1/4 inches; 146 mm x 133 mm;
A woman weeps during a demonstration in Hannover, Germany, Saturday Aug. 16, 2014. Thousands of people in Germany have protested against the persecution of the Yazidi minority in Iraq. Police say at least 10,000 people attended the biggest demonstration in the north German city of Hannover on Saturday. Protesters carried banners demanding that the international community protect the Yazidi people and other minorities from the Islamist State extremist group. (AP Photo/dpa,Swen Pfoertner)
A woman shouts during a demonstration in Hannover, Germany, Saturday Aug. 16, 2014. Thousands of people in Germany have protested against the persecution of the Yazidi minority in Iraq. Police say at least 10,000 people attended the biggest demonstration in the north German city of Hannover on Saturday. Protesters carried banners demanding that the international community protect the Yazidi people and other minorities from the Islamist State extremist group. (AP Photo/dpa,Swen Pfoertner)
SIRNAK, TURKEY - AUGUST 20: Iraqi Yazidis, fled from the attacks of army groups led by Islamic State (IS), formerly known as ISIL, take shelter to schools in Sirnak, Turkey on 20 August, 2014. (Photo by Huseyin Bagis/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
President Barack Obama speaks in Edgartown, Mass., Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014, about the killing of American journalist James Foley by militants with the Islamic State extremist group. The president said the US will continue to confront Islamic State extremists despite the brutal murder of journalist James Foley. Obama said the entire world is "appalled" by Foley's killing. The president says he spoke Wednesday with Foley's family and offered condolences. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
FILE- This undated image posted by the Raqqa Media Center, a Syrian opposition group, on Monday, June 30, 2014, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, shows fighters from the al-Qaida linked Islamic State during a parade with a missile in Raqqa, Syria. The Gulf nation of Qatar is hitting back at suggestions that it supports the Islamic State extremist group, saying that “determined, collective action” is needed to end sectarian violence gripping Iraq and Syria. Qatari Foreign Minister Khalid bin Mohammed al-Attiyah unequivocally denied funding the extremist group. (AP Photo/Raqqa Media Center)
FILE - This undated file photo posted by the Raqqa Media Center, a Syrian opposition group, on Monday, June 30, 2014, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, shows fighters from extremist Islamic State group during a parade in Raqqa, Syria. Activists have reported two cases of stoning this month in the Syrian northern province of Raqqa. The first case of stoning occurred in the town of Tabqa. A day after the July 17, 2014, stoning of Shamseh Mohammed Abdullah, 26, Faddah al-Sayed Ahmad was stoned to death in the provincial capital of Raqqa. (AP Photo/Raqqa Media Center, File)
US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel (L) and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey hold a press briefing at the Pentagon in Washington, DC, August 21, 2014. Hagel warned that the Islamic State is more than a traditional 'terrorist group' and better armed, trained and funded than any recent threat. 'They marry ideology and a sophistication of strategic and tactical military prowess. They are tremendously well funded. This is beyond anything we have seen,' Hagel told reporters. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel holds a press briefing at the Pentagon in Washington, DC, August 21, 2014. Hagel warned that the Islamic State is more than a traditional 'terrorist group' and better armed, trained and funded than any recent threat. 'They marry ideology and a sophistication of strategic and tactical military prowess. They are tremendously well funded. This is beyond anything we have seen,' Hagel told reporters. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
President Barack Obama speaks in Edgartown, Mass., Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014, about the killing of American journalist James Foley by militants with the Islamic State extremist group. The president said the US will continue to confront Islamic State extremists despite the brutal murder of journalist James Foley. Obama said the entire world is "appalled" by Foley's killing. The president says he spoke Wednesday with Foley's family and offered condolences. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
US President Barack Obama makes a statement at Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, on August 20, 2014. The United States has carried out more air strikes in Iraq, a senior US defense official said, as Islamic militants threaten to execute a second US journalist. AFP PHOTO/Nicholas KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
President Barack Obama pauses as he speaks in Edgartown, Mass., Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014, about the killing of American journalist James Foley by militants with the Islamic State extremist group. The president said the US will continue to confront Islamic State extremists despite the brutal murder of journalist James Foley. Obama said the entire world is "appalled" by Foley's killing. The president says he spoke Wednesday with Foley's family and offered condolences. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
John and Diane Foley talk to reporters after speaking with U.S. President Barack Obama Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014 outside their home in Rochester, N.H. Their son, James Foley was abducted in November 2012 while covering the Syrian conflict. Islamic militants posted a video showing his murder on Tuesday and said they killed him because the U.S. had launched airstrikes in northern Iraq. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
TODAY -- Pictured: (l-r) Parents of kidnapped journalist James Foley, Diane Foley and John Foley appear on NBC News' 'Today' show -- (Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)
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By SINAN SALAHEDDIN and DIAA HADID

BAGHDAD (AP) - An international rights group accused the extremist Islamic State group on Tuesday of systematic "ethnic cleansing" in northern Iraq targeting indigenous religious minorities, as well as conducting mass killings of men and abducting women.

In a new report, Amnesty International said militants abducted "hundreds, if not thousands" of women and girls of the Yazidi faith. The extremists also killed "hundreds" of Yazidi men and boys, Amnesty said. In at least one incident, the report said militants rounded up on trucks, took them to the edge of their village and shot them.

The 26-page report adds to a growing body of evidence outlining the scope and extent of the Islamic State group's atrocities since it began its sweep from Syria across neighboring Iraq in June. The militants since have seized much of northern and western Iraq, and have stretched to the outskirts of the Iraqi capital, Baghdad.

On Monday, the United Nations' top human rights body approved a request by Iraq to open an investigation into suspected crimes committed by the Islamic State group against civilians. Its aim would be to provide the Human Rights Council with evidence on atrocities committed in Iraq, which could be used as part of any international war crimes prosecution.

In its report, Amnesty detailed how the advance of Islamic State group fighters expelled an estimated 830,000 people - mostly Shiites and those belonging to tiny religious minorities that barely exist outside of Iraq. They include Aramaic-speaking Christians, Yazidis, a faith that traces to ancient Mesopotamia, the Shabak, an offshoot of Islam, and Mandeans, a gnostic faith.

Most fled as extremists neared their communities, fearing they'd be killed or forcibly converted to the group's hard-line version of Islam.

Thousands of Christians now live in schools and churches in northern Iraq. Yazidis crowd into a displaced persons camp and half-finished buildings. Shiites have mostly drifted to southern Iraq.

The sudden displacement of the minority groups appears to be the final blow to the continuity of those tiny communities in Iraq. Their numbers had been shrinking since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, which triggered extremist violence against them.

"Minorities in Iraq have been targeted at different points in the past, but the Islamic State (group) has managed, in the space of a few weeks, to completely wipe off of the map of Iraq, the religious and ethnic minorities from the area under their control," said Donatella Rovera of Amnesty International.

The Yazidis, in particular, were harshly targeted as Islamic State militants overran their ancestral lands in August.

In one incident, the report said "possibly hundreds" were killed in the village of Kocho on Aug. 15 after militants told residents to gather in a school.

"They separated men and boys from women and younger children. The men were then bundled into pickup vehicles - some 15-20 in each vehicle - and driven away to different nearby locations, where they were shot," the report said.

Islamic State fighters also systematically seized Yazidi women and children, some as they rounded up villagers, others as they tried to flee the militant onslaught, the report said. Their fate is unclear.

The report said they had obtained the names of "scores of the women and children" seized by the group. It said "hundreds, possibly thousands," were likely being held.

Some captive women are secretly communicating with their families on cell phones, Amnesty said. They told their families that some girls and young women were separated and taken away, Amnesty said.

It appears that some teenage girls were taken in groups to the homes of Islamic State fighters, the report said.

The brother of one girl who escaped the militants told The Associated Press that his 17-year-old sister was held with another Yazidi teenage girl in a house in the Iraqi town of Falluja. Khairy Sabri said militants threatened to kill his sister Samira if she did not convert to Islam. Sabri said his sister was seized on August 3 and was moved three times.

After fighting intensified between Kurdish forces and the militants, the three Islamic State group fighters guarding the house fled, allowing the women to escape, Sabri said. Sabri said his sister was otherwise unharmed.

Amnesty noted allegations that some abducted women were raped or forced to marry fighters.

The group said detained women who were in contact with their families had not been harmed, but "they believe that others have, notably those who were moved to undisclosed locations and have not been heard from since."

Yazidi lawmaker, Mahma Khalil, called on the Iraqi government and international community to urgently help the Yazidis who are still facing "continuing atrocities" by the militants.

"They have been trying hard to force us to abandon our religion. We reject that because we are the oldest faith in Iraq, that has roots in Mesopotamia," Khalil said.

___

Hadid reported from Beirut. Associated Press writer Marco Drobnjakovic in Irbil, Iraq, contributed to this report.

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