ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – As the military offensive against the so-called Islamic State continues in Syria’s Baghouz, another batch of children have been rescued from the grips of the extremist group, including seven Yezidis (Ezidis) and four Iraqi Shias.
In a tweet on Wednesday, Mustafa Bali, the head of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) media center, called on people to help facilitate the return of the four Iraqi children to their families.
“These four children from the Shia community of Tal Afar were abducted by the terrorist ISIS group years ago, they were freed by our troops today during the evacuation of civilians,” Bali tweeted in Arabic.
قواتنا تحرر ٤ أطفال من أبناء الطائفة الشيعية من مدينة تلعفر— Mustafa Bali (@mustefabali) March 6, 2019
يرجى المشاركة لنساهم في إيصال هؤلاء الأطفال لذويهم
٤ أطفال من الطائفة الشيعية من مدينة تلعفر كان تنظيم داعش الإرهابي اختطفهم منذ سنوات.
حررتهم قواتنا اليوم أثناء إجلاء المدنيين pic.twitter.com/ROLRJPmy0Q
Elsewhere, Kurdish Affairs analyst Mutlu Civiroglu, who is currently in Deir al-Zor, saidthe SDF freed an additional seven Ezidi children who are originally from Sinjar (Shingal).
“I talked to several Ezidi kids,” Civiroglu told Kurdistan 24. “They look desperate; very hungry, tired, exhausted, and skinny.”
“They [the SDF] clean the boys, give them food, and later they take them to a quiet place, and the elders come and take them to one of the Ezidi centers” in Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava).
He explained that the Ezidi centers in Rojava then contact the families of the children before they are returned to Shingal.
According to SDF commander Adnan Efrin, about 2,000 people were evacuated from Baghouz on Wednesday.
“In total, we have freed 5,500 civilians [since the start of the offensive],” Efrin told Kurdistan 24. “Those Ezidis who have been rescued—as you know we have an Ezidi Center in Amuda, they will help facilitate their return to their families.”
On Friday, a caravan of 21 Ezidis, most of them children, returned from Syria to Iraq.
They were reunited with their families in the Kurdistan Region a day later after having spent years in the hands of the Islamic State.
Mazin Salim, a 13-year-old Ezidi boy who was kidnapped by the Islamic State in 2014 in his hometown of Shingal, immediately asked: “Has something happened to Shingal?” after he was rescued from Baghouz.
Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International's Senior Crisis Response Adviser, reminded that little has been in Iraq and at the international level to address the plight of the Ezidi people.
“There seems to have been little effort to prosecute individual ISIS members for the abduction, killing, rape, enslavement and other abuses of [Ezidis], women and children,” Rovera told Kurdistan 24.
She added that Ezidi women and children who escaped Islamic State captivity are unaware “of any specific investigations aimed at finding those who committed such horrendous crimes against them.”
“All this work should have been done over the past four years, as more and more territory was recaptured from ISIS. It could have helped shed light on the fate of the thousands of [Ezidis] still missing.”
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany