Sunni militants from the Islamic State group have seized Iraq's largest dam, residents living nearby told the Associated Press. Witnesses say the militants stormed the Mosul Dam complex, located north of the country's second-largest city of Mosul, in one hour on Thursday. The militant group is now in control of massive power and water resources, as well as access to the Tigris River, which runs through Baghdad.
The militants had been fighting local Kurdish peshmerga fighters for control of the dam for nearly a week.
Equally concerning is the threats ISIS is making to the future of other religious minorities in the North. Some 40,000 people have fled their homes for fear of the Islamic State, according to the United Nations and human rights groups.
Unicef has reported that about 40 children have died from heat and dehydration, with a total of 25,000 children stranded. In addition, most of the refugees who fled the city of Sinjar are members of the Yazidi community, a group whose beliefs involve a "Peacock Angel" that's associated by some Sunni Muslims with Satan.
"We are being slaughtered," a Yazidi MP, Vian Dakhil, was quoted as saying in parliament. "Our entire religion is being wiped off the face of the earth. I am begging you, in the name of humanity."
The mountains in which the refugees are hiding have been cut off by the Islamic State, and according to The Guardian, the army has not dropped enough supplies in by helicopter. The U.N. says some of them have managed to escape in the last 24 hours, but there are now fears that dehydration and starvation could kill thousands of more refugees if assistance doesn't arrive soon.
ISIS has also driven Iraqi few remaining Christians from their towns, and reportedly took crosses down from churches and burned ancient manuscripts.