Jihadists Rout Kurds in North and Seize Strategic Iraqi Dam
By TIM ARANGOAUG. 7, 2014
BAGHDAD — The crisis gripping Iraq escalated rapidly on Thursday with a re-energized Islamic State in Iraq and Syria storming new towns in the north and seizing a strategic dam as Iraq’s most formidable military force, the Kurdish pesh merga, was routed in the face of the onslaught.
The loss of the Mosul Dam, the largest in Iraq, to the insurgents was the most dramatic consequence of a militant offensive in the north, which has sent tens of thousands of refugees, many from the Yazidi minority, fleeing into a vast mountainous landscape.
In one captured town, Sinjar, ISIS executed dozens of Yazidi men, and kept the dead men’s wives for unmarried jihadi fighters. Panic on Thursday spread even to the Kurdish capital of Erbil, long considered a safe haven, with civilians flooding the airport in a futile attempt to buy tickets to Baghdad.
As chaos tore through northern Iraq, political intrigue unfolded in Baghdad, with political leaders meeting late into the night in the fortified Green Zone to choose a replacement for Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, a Shiite who has become an increasingly divisive figure.