Hundreds of Yazidi sect women have been captured by militants from the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) terrorist group, according to media reports citing Iraqi officials.
Kamil Amin, a spokesman from Iraq’s Human Rights Ministry, says hundreds of women from the Yazidi religious minority have been taken captive.
He said that the women are under 35 years old and are being held at a school in Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, which is now under ISIL control.
The ministry learned of the situation from the victims’ families, AP reports.
It comes after the US carried out limited airstrikes against ISIL artillery, which had been targeting the Kurdish capital Erbil.
An end date for the strikes has not yet been established, the White House said in statement on Friday.
Some 50,000 residents of the Yazidi community have been forced to flee their homes in northern Iraq, and their capital Sinjar is now under the control ISIL radicals.
Up to 40,000 are stuck up Mt. Sinjar, where they are surrounded by ISIL militants who have threatened them with death.
Many women and children, as well as the sick and elderly, have already died on the mountain from hunger and dehydration, although the US dropped some food supplies earlier on Friday.
The president of the autonomous Kurdistan region, Fuad Hussein, confirmed on Friday that ISIL militants now have control of the Mosul dam, the biggest in Iraq, which may give them the ability to cut off vital water and electricity supplies.
The two-month-old ISIL offensive that saw no practical objection from world powers and international organizations has left hundreds of civilians dead.