Eight Yezidi women and children rescued, fate of 3,400 more unknown
Yezidi women ask for help freeing the thousands still held in ISIS captivity on the anniversary of the Yezidi genocide last year. Photo: Rudaw video
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – A number of Kurdish Yezidi women and children held captive by ISIS were freed on Sunday, said an official. Hussein Koro, head of the Kurdistan Regional Government's (KRG) Yezidi Women Rescue Office revealed in a press briefing that “eight Yezidis including five women and three children living under ISIS rule were rescued.” Koro, however, did not provide details as to where they were rescued. Regarding their escape, he said that in coordination with Duhok province’s security agencies, Peshmerga Ministry and some people who work with them, they were able to locate the whereabouts of the women and children, and rescued them from the extremist group. The total number of Yezidis who have been rescued from ISIS since Shingal fell to ISIS in August 2014 has now reached 2,936. “There are still 3,400 others left behind,” Koro said. He added they would continue their efforts to rescue the remaining ones as “we promised our people in the past. God willing, in the coming days we will give them more promising news by bringing more back home." He claimed that some political parties, for their own propaganda, have turned the escape of the Yezidis into an achievement for their parties. “We, as the only office in charge of rescuing Yezidi women and girls, reject these baseless allegations as they have only been freed through our office,” he stated. Commenting on an ongoing operation to retake the western side of Mosul and the already concluded offensive on the eastern bank, he said his office demanded the authorities and associated parties prior to the operation not to bomb any area where Yezidi captives were believed to be held. They had also demanded the closure of roads linking the west of Mosul to Syria so that the militants would not be able to transfer the Yezidi captives to Raqqa. As ISIS territory keeps dwindling and the group is in control of an estimated 20 percent of Mosul, the fate of the Yezidis believed to be in Mosul has remained unclear. “Until now, not a single Yezidi person is rescued through the Mosul operation and those set free had taken shelter at [civilian] houses," Koro explained. He urged the KRG to boost “coordination with the Iraqi government, UN, and all those speaking in the name of humanity to uncover the destiny of the Yezidis who were in Mosul. Where have they been taken to? Where did they go?” As another wide-ranging military operation is expected to be carried out in the near future to expel ISIS in the group’s self-proclaimed capital city of Raqqa in eastern Syria, Koro is worried that many Yezidi captives may be being held in that city. He urged the UN to call on the fighting groups designated to liberate Raqqa to help rescue the Yezidis. “If the same scenario is repeated in Raqqa just like what happened in Mosul and Fallujah, then the fate of our Yezidis will never be known,” he said.
(c) Rudaw 2017