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IRAQ - Neo-Salafis Seek Sinjar Haven Near Syrian Border.

Driven by US-led forces out of the predominantly Sunni Anbar in the west and the mixed Diyala in the north-east, Neo-Salafi groups led by al-Qaeda's Internet-based Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) are seeking a safe haven near the Syrian border. The area they want is Sinjar, inhabited by Yazidis, a minority pre-Islamic Kurdish sect which totals 800,000 worldwide and 500,000 in Iraq. The Neo-Salafis call the Yazidis "devil-worshippers" and want to drive them out of Sinjar, killing them on mass. Suicide fuel truck blasts on Aug 14 killed 444 of them and wounded 450 others in Qahtaniya and other parts of Sinjar, 120 km north-west of Mosul.

The attacks involved four trucks packed with up to five tons of explosives and levelled entire sections of the villages of Qahtaniya, al-Jazeera, and Tal 'Uzair in the Sinjar area about 32 km from Syria. "More than half of our village has been destroyed, and the rest of the homes are not suitable", said an elderly man on local TV, standing amid the devastation of Qahtaniyah, which looked more like the aftermath of an earthquake. "Families are now wandering in the wilderness. We ask the central government for help and compensation".

The strike hit one of the most impoverished parts of Iraq and targeted an insular community battling for survival. Most were sheepherders or made pickles and arak, an alcoholic drink. US and Iraqi officials said it was similar to the July attack on the village of Amerli in a remote corner of Salahuddin Province which killed 185, mostly Turkmen Shi'ites.
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Publication:APS Diplomat Redrawing the Islamic Map
Date:Aug 20, 2007
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