(JNS.org) An Iraqi Yazidi military commander has made an appeal to Israel for military aid to help in the fight against the Islamic State terror group.
“We appeal to the Israeli government and its leader to step in and help this nation, which loves the Jewish people,” Lt. Col. Lukman Ibrahim—a fighter in the Sinjar Protection Forces, a Yazidi militia—told Al-Monitor.
“We would be most grateful for the establishment of military ties—for instance, the training of fighters and the formation of joint teams. We are well aware of the circumstances the Israelis are in, and of the suffering they have endured at the hands of the Arabs ever since the establishment of their state. We, too, are suffering on account of them,” Ibrahim added.
Numbering around 1 million adherents, the Yazidis are a Kurdish ethnoreligious group that is linked to Zoroastrianism and other ancient Mesopotamian faiths. Their homeland is centered around Mount Sinjar in northern Iraq.
Last summer, Islamic State jihadists conquered wide swaths of northern Iraq, displacing more than 1.8 million Iraqis, including Yazidis, Christians, and other minorities. Thousands of Yazidis were murdered by the jihadists, while many women and children were taken as prisoners or sex slaves. It is estimated that around 5,000 Yazidis are currently being held by Islamic State.
Another Yazidi fighter, Majdal Rasho, who returned to Iraq from Germany to protect his homeland from Islamic State, said that the persecuted Yazidis are facing a similar fate to that of the expelled Iraqi Jewish community.
“Our people had no choice but to flee. We are not Arabs, nor are we Muslims. We see ourselves as sharing a fate with the Israelis, who went through similar pogroms. Those besieged on the mountain approached me and asked, ‘Maybe our Israeli brethren could lend a hand?’” Rasho told Al-Monitor.
While the Israeli government has not officially responded to the Yazidi fighters’ calls, Israeli humanitarian groups like IsraAID have been active in the region, providing essential humanitarian goods to Yazidi and Christian refugees.
At the same time, Israel maintains warm relations with Iraq’s Kurds, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has backed Kurdish independence.