ISIS Genocide: Thousands of Men and Boys Shot or Beheaded, ‘Family Members Often Forced to Witness the Killings’


ISIS Genocide: Thousands of Men and Boys Shot or Beheaded, ‘Family Members Often Forced to Witness the Killings’


In its report on the genocide of the Yazidi people in Sinjar, Iraq, at the hands of the Islamic State, the United Nations documented that thousands of men and boys (12 or older) were slaughtered in the streets – shot in the head or throats cut (beheaded) – and that “family members were often forced to witness the killings.”




As one witness, a 16-year-old girl who was held captive for seven months and sold as a sex slave, told the U.N., “After we were captured, ISIS forced us to watch them beheading some of our Yazidi men. They made the men kneel in a line in the street, with their hands tied behind their backs. The ISIS fighters took knives and cut their throats.”

The U.N. Human Rights Council report, They Came to Destroy: ISIS Crimes Against the Yazidis, is based upon 45 interviews of survivors, smugglers, activists, doctors, nurses, and journalists, which corroborated information and material collected by the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic.

The Islamic State forces attacked the Yazidi villages in Sinjar in northern Iraq on Aug. 3, 2014.  It is estimated that at least 5,000 Yazidis have been killed, so far,  by ISIS as a direct act of genocide.




The U.N. states that “over 3,200 Yazidi women and children are still held by ISIS. Most are in Syria where Yazidi females continue to be sexually enslaved and Yazidi boys are indoctrinated, trained and used in hostilities. Thousands of Yazidi men and boys are missing. The genocide of the Yazidis is ongoing.”

Specifically in reference to the Yazidi men and boys, the U.N. reported that upon capture on Aug. 3, 2014, and in the days that followed, ISIS swiftly separated the men with the boys who had reached puberty. Younger boys were allowed to stay with their mothers and sisters.

Following these separations, “ISIS fighters summarily executed men and older boys who refused to convert to Islam,” said the U.N. The report further states:


  • Most of those [men and boys] killed were executed by gunshots to the head; others had their throats cut [heads cut off with a knife.
  • ISIS fighters carried out executions of male Yazidis in the streets and towns and villages, at makeshift checkpoints, on roadsides as well as on the lower sections of the roads ascending Mount Sinjar.
  • Other captives, including family members, were often forced to witness the killings.
  • The Yazidi men were not heard from again.
  • The bodies of those killed on capture were often left in situ.
  • Yazidis captured and forcibly removed to Mosul and Tel Afar in the days following the attack, described being driven along roads, the sides of which were littered with corpses.
  • Men and older boys who were forcibly converted to Islam became ISIS captives.
  • These “converts” to Islam were “forced to work, laboring on construction projects, digging trenches, cleaning streets, and looking after cattle.




  • Those who attempted to escape were executed upon capture.
  • ISIS recorded videos on their phones of ‘converted’ Yazidi men and boys urging their relatives to convert. These videos were shown to the men’s families at holding sites….
  • All Yazidi men and boys were required to go to mosque for prayers.
  • When someone successfully escaped, members of their household were beaten.
  • Every day, ISIS took men and boys over 12 years of age out of the villages and forced them to labor on various projects in nearby cities and towns. Those who initially refused to go were beaten.
  • ISIS fighters regularly searched the villages and seized unmarried women and girls, as well as those who were married but had no children.
  • Despite the feigned conversions, ISIS fighters regularly insulted the Yazidis held in Qasr Maharab, Qasil Qio and Al-Khadra, calling them “kuffar”, or infidels.

In the report, the U.N. quotes a Yazidi woman who was held captive for 15 months and sold 5 times as a sex slave.  She says, “ISIS ordered everyone from Kocho [village] to go to the school. Men and boys over 10 years were on the ground floor, while women and children were on the upper floor.”




“The fighters took the men and boys away,” she says. “After ISIS took them, no men from the village ever returned. My husband was with them.”

In March 2016, the United States officially declared that the actions of the Islamic State against Christians, Yazidis, and other minorities in the Middle East constituted genocide. The British government made the same official declaration in April 2016.

The U.N. Human Rights Council report of June 15, 2016 states: “ISIS has committed the crime of genocide as well as multiple crimes against humanity and war crimes against the Yazidis, thousands of whom are held captive in the Syrian Arab Republic where they are subjected to almost unimaginable horrors…. The public statements and conduct of ISIS and its fighters clearly demonstrate that ISIS intended to destroy the Yazidis of Sinjar, composing the majority of the world’s Yazidi population, in whole or in part.”





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