Yazidi activists in Iraq have said that the Islamic State (IS) extremist group has separated hundreds of male Yazidi captives from women and girls and could be preparing to kill them.
Mirza Dinnayi, a senior Yazidi leader and a former adviser on minority affairs to the Iraqi president, told the Yazidi news portal Ezidi Press on April 26 that IS militants had separated about 500 Yazidi boys and men over the age of 14. The Yazidis are being held captive by IS in Tal Afar in Iraq's Nineveh Province.
Hayrî Demir, the editor of chief of Ezidi Press, told RFE/RL on April 27 that his team had contacted several Yazidi activists who said that Dinnayi's report was true. Families of those affected have also confirmed the information, according to Demir.
IS has taken the Yazidi boys and men to the village of Cino near Tal Afar, Demir said. However, since April 26 Yazidi activists have not been able to make contact with those who were separated.
IS militants abducted as many as several thousand members of the Kurdish Yazidi minority after taking control of the Sinjar region of northern Iraq in August 2014, according to Kurdistan officials and community leaders.
The Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) Directorate of Yazidi Affairs has said that, as of March 15, 974 Yazidis have escaped IS, including 513 women and 304 children.
According to Demir, there have been a fresh spate of recent Yazidi escapes from IS captivity.
On April 26, Ezidi Press reported that six children, two women, and two men from the same family are believed to be the latest to escape from the militants. The 10 Yazidis managed to flee during clashes between IS gunmen and Kurdish fighters near Tal Afar.
The escapes could have been the factor that led to IS separating Yazidi men and boys from girls and women, Demir believes.
Demir warned that the Islamic State (IS) group may be about to kill the Yazidi men and boys.
"Because dozens of Yazidis were able to flee in the recent days, and if they separated the men and boys, it's possible that they will be killed," Demir told RFE/RL.
Yazidis who managed to escape from IS captivity have testified that the militants meted out horrific punishments to those who were caught trying to flee.
One Yazidi woman, Ahlam, told CNN this month that IS militants forced her and her fellow captives to watch as they broke the bones of two Yazidi men who were caught trying to escape. The gunmen tied the men to a truck and drove them through the streets, she said.
Ezidi Press believes that IS may now impose stricter control on the Yazidi women and girls who were separated from the men, which could include taking them to Syria.
According to eyewitness accounts, including from Yazidi women and girls who have escaped the militant group, IS gunmen have subjected female Yazidi captives, including young girls, to systematic abuse and sexual violence. IS gunmen have "sold" Yazidi women and girls as possessions and given them as rewards to militants, rights groups have said.
-- Joanna Paraszczuk