BAGHOUZ (Kurdistan 24) – A group of 11 Yezidi (Ezidi) children who were taken by the Islamic State several years ago has been rescued by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), and on Sunday, finally shared their stories.
“Daesh killed my father and took my mother,” Saddam, who is in his early teenage years, told Kurdistan 24.
The group of children have lost their Kurdish identity and know little to nothing about the Kurdish language or their families, except for Saddam who retained some of his mother tongue.
He hopes to find his family, whom he knows nothing about now that they have been separated for over four years.
“We were in Shingal [Sinjar, Iraq] when Daesh [Arab Acronym for the Islamic State] attacked us and captured me and my parents, as well as my brothers and sisters. They took my mother away, and killed my father,” he solemnly recalled.
“I want to return home and see my family. Since my father is dead, I need to see my brothers and sisters. I don't know where they are,” Saddam lamented.
Maher, another young Ezidi boy, spoke in Arabic.
“The [Islamic] State took my family, but I don't know what happened to them,” he said.
“We were in Shingal... Daesh attacked us. They took us and separated the men, women, and children into three groups. We were brought to many different places in Syria before ending up in Baghouz, where we were able to make it out to safety,” Maher explained.
The Ezidis suffered the most under the Islamic State as the group committed innumerable atrocities against the ethnoreligious minority group since it appeared in 2014. They killed thousands of their men and took their thousands more of their women as sex slaves and hostages.
Children were separated from their families and taken to special camps run by the Islamic State to turn them into what they called “the Cubs of the Caliphate,” sometimes used as suicide bombers.
Last week, the SDF announced the military end of the Islamic State was imminent since the extremist group can no longer expand its reach or launch counter-attacks.
Nevertheless, the fighting continues, with intermittent clashes and US-led coalition airstrikes taking place in Baghouz as the remaining fighters and their families resist in a tented area on the outskirts of Baghouz village.
Several SDF fighters believe the battle might end in less than a week but new information about the number of Islamic State fighters still in the area - about one thousand - could delay the fight yet again.
Editing by Nadia Riva
(Additional reporting by Kurdistan 24 correspondent Akram Salih from Baghouz)