ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Iraqi security forces on Monday announced they had rescued six Yezidi (Ezidi) women and their six children in a sting operation on Islamic State members.
The statement, released by Iraqi Security Media Cell, did not offer specific details about the operation, excluding where the Ezidis were rescued. It did mention, however, that they had been reunited with their families in the predominantly Ezidi town of Sinjar (Shingal) in Nineveh Province.
It is the first Iraqi operation in 2019 to free Ezidis.
The emergence of the Islamic State and its violent assault on Shingal in 2014 led to the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Ezidis. Most of them fled to the Kurdistan Region, while others resettled in neighboring countries in the region or Western states.
Others were not as lucky and remained stranded in the war zone, where they experienced atrocities and mass executions at the hands of the extremist group for years. Militants subjected women and girls to sexual slavery, kidnapped children, forced religious conversions, executed scores of men, and abused, sold, and trafficked women across areas they controlled in Iraq and Syria.
Prior to the 2014 attack, there were roughly 550,000 Ezidis in the Kurdistan Region and Iraq. As the jihadist group took over large swaths of territory in Nineveh Province, 360,000 Ezidis escaped and found refuge elsewhere, according to the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) Ezidi Rescue Office.
So far, 69 mass graves which contain the remains of Ezidis have been excavated along with untold numbers of individual graves.
The Kurdistan Region’s Rescue Office, so far, has liberated 3,342 Ezidis from the clutches of the Islamic State. However, some 3,000 more have yet to be freed.
Editing by Nadia Riva