ISIS frees around 350 Yazidi captives in Iraq's north
KIRKUKJan 17, 2015 - 12:00 am GMT+3
Jan 17, 2015 12:00 am
The Islamic State freed around 350 members of Iraq's Yazidi minority on Saturday, delivering them to safety in the country's Kurdish north.
Almost all those released were elderly, disabled, or unwell, and included several infants with serious illnesses, according to a Reuters reporter who saw them arrive in the Kurdish-controlled city of Kirkuk.
ISIS militants attacked Yazidis in northwest Iraq last summer, killing or capturing and enslaving thousands of the minority group.
Those who could fled to the autonomous Kurdistan region, where many are living in camps along with other religious and ethnic minorities as well as Sunni Muslims displaced by the ISIS militants.
One of the freed Yazidis, who was in his 70s, said ISIS fighters had ordered them to get into buses on Saturday, and they feared they were going to be executed.
Instead, they were driven to the ISIS-controlled Shirqat area, where they spent the night, and from there to Hawija at the southwestern entrance of Kirkuk.
Kurdish peshmerga forces drove back Islamic State militants in northwestern Iraq last month, breaking a long siege of Sinjar mountain where thousands of Yazidis had been stranded for months. But many Yazidi villages remain under ISIS control.
Yazidi beliefs combine elements of several ancient Middle Eastern religions. ISIS fighters say the Yazidi must embrace their radical version of Islam or die.
About the author
Research Associate at Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA) at Istanbul Sabahattin Zaim University