Last updated: 23 October, 2014

Yazidi commander killed on Iraq’s Mount Sinjar

Islamic State group jihadists besieging Mount Sinjar in northern Iraq have killed a commander of forces from the Yazidi religious minority defending the area, a fighter said on Thursday.

The commander, Al-Sheikh Khayri, had returned from Germany, which has large Yazidi community, to fight, and was killed on Wednesday night, Khalaf Mamu told AFP by telephone.

“The humanitarian situation became very difficult because there is very little food,” while fuel was also lacking, he said.

Mamu put the number of fighters defending Mount Sinjar at about 1,200.

The Islamic State (IS) group began a renewed push for the mountain on Monday after besieging it earlier in the year.

Some 300 of the jihadists with armoured vehicles attacked and seized nearby villages and then turned their sights on the mountain itself, commander Dawud Jundi said.

The first siege of Mount Sinjar, during which thousands of mainly-Yazidi civilians were trapped by IS, was a key moment in the conflict against the jihadist group, which spearheaded an offensive in June that has overrun large areas of Iraq.

The plight of those trapped on the mountain helped prompt the United States to begin air strikes against the jihadists that have since been expanded into Syria and now involve a coalition of countries.

Most of the people trapped in the first siege were eventually able to escape via Syria with the help of Kurdish fighters from Iraq’s neighbour to the west, but that route has now been cut.