Iraq crisis: EU condemns 'atrocities' by IS militants


Paul Wood reports from Mount Sinjar, from where many refugees have escaped, but some 'stragglers' remain

EU foreign ministers have condemned "atrocities and abuses" against religious minorities in Iraq, with Germany warning it cannot stand by and watch people being "slaughtered".

The emergency meeting in Brussels left it to individual states whether they would arm Iraq's Kurds against Islamic State (IS) militants in the north.

France and the US have already moved to supply the Kurds with arms.

IS violence has driven an estimated 1.2 million Iraqis from their homes.

After the talks, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said he was flying to Iraq to meet Kurdish leaders and the government in Baghdad to discuss what support is most needed.

"We cannot just watch as people are slaughtered there," he said after the foreign ministers' meeting in Brussels. "If the current threat level persists, I can't rule out that we will have to deliver weapons."

Iraq has appointed a new prime minister to tackle the crisis. Haider al-Abadi, deputy speaker of the parliament, took over from his fellow Shia Muslim politician Nouri Maliki on Thursday, ending a dangerous political deadlock in Baghdad.

One of Iraq's most powerful Sunni tribal leaders, Ali Hatem Suleiman, has reportedly said he is ready to work with the new prime minister if he protects the rights of Sunnis.

Sunni Muslim tribesmen backing Iraqi security forces near Ramadi, Anbar province, 14 August Sunni Muslim tribesmen backing Iraqi security forces near Ramadi on Friday

Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq's most influential Shia cleric, has already thrown his weight behind the new prime minister in Baghdad.

In another development, there are reports of fierce fighting with IS militants in the predominantly Sunni region of Anbar, west of Baghdad.

AFP news agency quoted a Sunni tribal leader, Sheikh Abduljabbar Abu Risha, as saying an "uprising" was under way against IS, while Anbar police chief Maj-Gen Ahmed Saddak said security forces were backing the fight to drive out IS.

'Atrocities and abuses'

After meeting in Brussels, the EU foreign ministers said in a statement: "The EU remains seriously concerned about the deterioration of the security situation in Iraq, and condemns in the strongest terms the attacks perpetrated by [IS] and other associated armed groups.

"The EU also condemns the atrocities and abuses of basic human rights, in particular when committed against targeted religious minorities and most vulnerable groups."

A Kurdish Peshmerga fighter takes position on the frontline in Khazer August 14, 2014 Kurdish Peshmerga fighters have been pushed back by Islamic State militants in northern Iraq

The ministers called for investigations into possible crimes against humanity.

They welcomed the "decision by individual Member States to respond positively to the call by the Kurdish regional authorities to provide urgently military material.

"Such responses will be done according to the capabilities and national laws of the Member States, and with the consent of the Iraqi national authorities."

The emergency EU meeting was called by France, whose foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, had criticised the EU for inaction on Iraq.

Military aid pledges
  • The US and France have already started arming Kurdish fighters
  • The UK says it would "favourably consider" any request for arms from the Kurds
  • The Czech Republic says it is working on the "preparation of military supplies" to the Kurds
  • The Netherlands said on Thursday that it would also consider helping arm both Kurdish and Iraqi government troops

Several EU countries, as well as the US, have made drops of aid in northern Iraq in the past week.

The US has also engaged in limited air strikes against IS targets.

The BBC's Caroline Wyatt spent the day at a hospital in Dohuk where the doctors have been treating Yazidi refugees

The governor of Dohuk province in northern Iraq, Farhad Atrushi, has said the US and UK are politically and ethically responsible for helping Iraq.

Warning of the threat of "genocide", he told the BBC: "We have hundreds of thousands [of refugees]. We're going to face an international humanitarian catastrophe because many of these kids and children will die."

He said that Kurdish authorities needed at least two months and hundreds of millions of dollars to be able to provide shelter for Iraqi refugees.

'Refugees are everywhere': Iraqi Christian cleric in Irbil
Refugees in Irbil (file pic - 3 August 2014) Refugees - including Christians and Yazidis - have been arriving in Irbil for weeks

I lived all my life in Iraq. I have never seen this evil before. Christians were forced to leave Mosul. They were given three options - convert to Islam, pay tax or be killed.

I have one family in my church. IS took everything from them. They took their money, they took even their gold rings, clothes and they even took the medicine of an old lady who was them.

Refugees are everywhere. They are in churches. They are in public schools. They are in streets. They are in parks. Now you can find 40 people living in one house. Many people have come to me and said we are seven families in one house.

The cleric spoke to BBC Radio 5 Live on condition on anonymity

Maliki resigns

Mr Maliki's resignation on Thursday evening was welcomed by the UN and US.

The resignation brought an end to eight years of often divisive rule, when Mr Maliki's government was accused of favouring the Shia Muslim majority.

The writing was on the wall for Mr Maliki, says the BBC's Jim Muir

Mr Abadi is one of Iraq's most senior politicians, having held several high-profile posts since returning from exile in 2003.

He is regarded by some as a moderate within Mr Maliki's Dawa party, and has shown more of a willingness to compromise than his predecessor.

In a Facebook post, Mr Abadi urged Iraqis to unite in the face of "strong and dangerous challenges". He said he would be prepared to give up his life in defence of the nation.

The change in government comes as the Iraqi army proved unable to stop Islamist fighters from seizing vast areas in northern Iraq.

A UN Security Council meeting on Friday is expected to approve a resolution threatening sanctions against any country which finances or supports IS.

Iraq map

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  • rate this

    Comment number 46.

    35.,Why are you asking for proof of the FACT's that 33 was talking about? Our own government openly and publicly supported these people. What more proof do you need?

  • rate this

    Comment number 45.

    What fact? Where is the evidence for your fact?
    Are you serious? You don't remember Western governments saying the noble rebels in Syria should be helped? You do know who those rebels consist of right? Monsters like (Al-Qaeda linked) The Al-Nusra Front, and ISIS (now IS)?

    That is a 'fact,' and if you can't accept it, you're in denial (or worse).

  • Comment number 44.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 43.

    Another "Clueless Conspiracy theorist"

    Why can't posters on BBC websites come up with FACTS?

    To say the west deliberately destabilises the middle east is nearly as daft as saying the moon landings were a hoax.

    Get help if you can, I'm sure you can be cured

  • rate this

    Comment number 42.

    It's a shame that countless people from various religions are being slaughtered by ISIS , yet there's support for them on the streets of the UK.

    When the ones who've travelled to help ISIS return to our shores with their evil ways the lefties may think different, hopefully.

    Do what ever it takes to remove these terorrists from overseas and here in the UK

  • rate this

    Comment number 41.


    Well technically he is right, and therefore his statement can be construed as fact. Where else do you suppose ISIS got their humvee’s from, ebay??

  • rate this

    Comment number 40.

    "It's time the world united against Islamic fascism."
    And by "united" you mean kill people? For their religious beliefs?

    The extremism is present as a reaction to meddling. Stop meddling and they have nothing to react to and thus nothing to be extreme about. Carry on meddling or escalate and you will make matters work.

  • rate this

    Comment number 39.

    Where is the Arab League in all this? Why isit the West that always feels compelled to step in when things like this happen?

  • rate this

    Comment number 38.

    Hooorayyyyy A comment section on the west's foreign policy.

    ISIS/ISIL - Funded with "non lethal aid" (coms/body armour) by the west for the past few years in their fight along with the FSA in Syria against Assad. Let's not forget Mr Camerons sneak sneaky attempt to convince the British public that we ought to bomb those nasty syrians.

    When will we ever learn

  • rate this

    Comment number 37.


    Ok but the lies re WMDs (if they were lies) were told to the UK public and parliament. Surely the lies per se cannot convert the deaths of Iraqis into war crimes. Surely you have to look at the real reason for the war. If it was simply to get rid of Saddam, the question is: was that justified or not? I don't know the answer to that but I do think it's the right question

  • Comment number 36.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 35.


    Why do people like you type FACT in captial letters? What fact? Where is the evidence for your fact? Just because you type it in captials does not mean it is fact! I find it very annoying, and totally unneccessary!

  • rate this

    Comment number 34.

    So, the USA European governments want to bomb their own captured equipment vehicles and guns, which are in the possession of the "nobel rebels," who we were told were great and we should support in their struggle against Assad only 8 months ago?

    Everything our meddling governments touch in the Middle East rots, Western government 'help' isn't a cure, it's a curse, its the cause of their grief.

  • rate this

    Comment number 33.

    The fact that, the west was cheer leading IS and other militants fighting in Libya and in Syria needs to be addressed. Why has this FACT been shoved down the memory hole. Why is the media complicit in ignoring this, when it was only 1-2 years ago? If Dave had his way and bombed Syria - that entire country would have been over taken by these exact same groups going wild in Iraq.

  • rate this

    Comment number 32.

    you haven't a clue what your are on about. Afghanistan is not a US/UK invasion, it is a DUTY called for by the Untied Nations. Put down the Beano and read a newspaper before you comment.

  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    OK BBC I'll re phrase it.

    Destabilising the Middle East has been the long term plan of the west for decades. It's the age old adage of divide and conquer; obviously for the oil.

    The trouble is, the majority of neurologically challenged on these boards, and the rest of the nation of sheep we've become, are too stupid or to ignorant, to see it.

    Go and enjoy another Latte...

  • rate this

    Comment number 30.

    It's time the world united against Islamic fascism. It's afflicting dozens of nations around the globe. The response so far has been disparate with nations mainly acting alone.

    The odious left wingers marching side by side with Islamists waving Hamas flags and calling to wipe out nations, should be utterly condemned.

    We have extremists handing out material on the streets of Britain. Enough!

  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    @15 - Possibly because of the thousands of innocent people killed under a false pretence of WMDs.
    @17 - I am a little surprised you are being marked down. I mean, if it was in name of terror then why are we not helping in Zimbabwe? North Korea? We do seem to ignore any Country that does not have Oil, that is a fact that cannot be ignored.

  • Comment number 28.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    The Kurds have been under the kosh for a long time, since even before we (and the US) sold them out during the first gulf war, had them rise against Sadam, then let him gas them once we were happy Saudi was safe.

    And unlike Syria the Kurds aren't half a bunch of terrorists.

    Not only should we help them, we owe them!


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