How the Kurds abandoned the Yazidis when ISIS attacked

Firsthand accounts from Sinjar paint a picture of withdrawal without a fight and without warning the local population.

The first quiet retreat was in the southern villages, which bore the brunt of the initial attack. Late into the night of Saturday, August 2, IS first launched mortars into Seebaya and Tel Banat, close to the militant group’s positions in Baadj district. In the early morning of August 3, Yazidi men, not peshmerga, stood and fought thinking that the Kurdish forces would soon join in the battle. When they realized that wasn’t going to happen, many tried to escape over the mountain. While it is difficult at this point to estimate how many were killed, locals say the number was around 200.

If the Yazidi men had known the peshmerga would withdraw, they might have fled earlier as well. Alone, they were no match for the IS army.

North of the mountain, locals received no warning from peshmerga or KDP and government officials regarding the attacks, said Amina, who worked for the party in that region. She heard about attacks from her aunt who lives south of the mountain, and she called her sub-branch director. She was told to stay calm and that there was no withdrawal. But when she called Sarbast Baiperi’s guards they said he had left the night before and they themselves were already gone, and they confirmed the troop withdrawal.