Iraq Yazidis Launch Revenge Killings Against Arabs After ISIS Ouster

Aim to Expel Remaining Arabs From Their Territory

During many months of fighting over the territory around Sinjar, Iraq’s Yazidi minority has been seen as long-suffering victims. Since the ouster of ISIS by Kurdish forces, however, they too are turning on their neighbors.

The Yazidis are an ethno-religious group related to the Kurds, and seem to see ISIS as primarily an Arab phenomenon, as opposed to a Salafist Sunni Islamist one.

This makes some sense from their point of view, since the Kurds who liberated them are also large overwhelmingly Sunnis. ISIS fighters are far from exclusively Arab, but they’re the long-standing regional rival, and are clearly well-represented within the movement.

Now with ISIS gone, Yazidis are turning their sights on their Arab neighbors, raiding their villages, killing some and trying to drive others away. The goal appears to be ethnic cleansing of the region.

The attackers see any Arabs as de facto collaborators with ISIS, and are hoping their mass expulsion will turn ISIS attention away from their region. Clearly, however, ISIS interest in Sinjar is primarily for its strategic value in the region around Mosul, one of their prize cities, and wiping out a few villages is only going to fuel decades of local acrimony, not slow the regional war.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of