Demonstrators from the Yazidi religious community in Northern Iraq have taken to the streets of Arbil to plead for help in fighting Islamic State forces.
A few hundred people marched towards the local UN headquarters, calling on the Kurdish army and UN to supply them with weapons. The protesters brandished images claiming to show atrocities committed by Islamic State militants. One demonstrator outlined an apparently grave situation:
“We call on anyone who can help us because our families are dying. We do not know their fate. Old people and children are without food and they are scared to death and the Islamic State are slaughtering them.”
On Sunday the Yazidi community saw their homes in the Sinjar mountains overrun by extremists under the Islamic State banner.
It came as the Sunni militants made substantial gains in the north against Kurdish forces. The advance brought a fifth oil field under their control.
Relations between Kurdish politicians and the country’s central government have been strained recently. But Iraq’s prime minister has now ordered his air force to support Kurdish ground troops for the first time since fighting began, in the hope of stemming the surge of extremists.
In June, Sunni militants made lighting quick gains across northern Iraq and parts of Syria. They have since declared a caliphate and threatened to march on Baghdad.