LATEST: Kurdish Military: US Airstrikes Support Ground Operation to Retake Mosul Dam

An MP and two Kurdish officials said on Friday that Islamic State jihadists carried out a mass killing of about 80 men from the Yazidi minority in northern Iraq.

The massacre reportedly occurred in Kocho, 45 kilometers (30 miles) from Sinjar, the Yazidi town captured by the Islamic State two weeks ago. Earlier this week claims circulated that Kocho’s residents had been given an ultimatum by the Islamic State to convert to Islam.

An estimated Yazidis who fled fighting in the Sinjar area are still on Mount Sinjar, amid reports of the execution of hundreds of members of their faith, a mix of ancient Christianity, Zoroastrianism, and Islam.

“They arrived in vehicles and they started their killing this afternoon,” senior Kurdish official Hoshiyar Zebari said on Friday. “We believe it’s because of their creed: convert or be killed.”

Yazidi MP Mahama Khalil and another senior Kurdish official also said the men had been slain and added that the women of the village were kidnapped.

Khalil, quoting villagers who survived the attack, said the massacre took place in an hour.

The resident of a nearby village claimed details from an Islamic State fighter:

He told me that the Islamic State had spent five days trying to persuade villagers to convert to Islam and that a long lecture was delivered about the subject today.

He then said the men were gathered and shot dead. The women and girls were probably taken to Tal Afar because that is where the foreign fighters are.

The latest claim follows Sunday’s assertion of Iraq’s Human Rights Minister, Mohammed Shia al-Sudani, that the Islamic State has killed at least 500 Yazidis during their offensive in the north. He said some of the victims, including women and children, were buried alive and alleged that about 300 women were kidnapped as slaves.

Kurdish Military: US Airstrikes Support Ground Operation to Retake Mosul Dam

A Kurdish military official has said that early-morning US airstrikes (see earlier entry) were in support of a Kurdish ground offensive to retake the Mosul Dam, Iraq’s largest.

“Kurdish peshmerga, with U.S. air support, have seized control of the eastern side of the dam (complex),” Major General Abdelrahman Korini said. “We killed several members of Daash (Islamic State). We are still advancing and in the coming hours should announce welcome news.”.

Witnesses said fighting was ongoing in the afternoon.

The dam lies on the Tigris River, on the southern shores of Mosul Lake about 50 kilometers (30 miles) north of the city. It provides electricity to much of the region and is crucial to irrigation in the farming areas of Nineveh Province.

Reports: US Airstrikes Early Saturday Morning on Islamic State

The Kurdish website Rudaw reports that US fighter jets bombed four Islamic State positions early Saturday morning.

A Rudaw reporter said the fighters struck near the Mosul Dam, occupied by the jihadists; the Rabia border crossing; and nearby towns. Targets included a gas station used by Islamic State vehicles and a major junction leading to Iraq’s second city Mosul.

A Kurdish peshmerga soldier said the bombings were the most intense since the US began airstrikes last week.