ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Twenty-one members of the Yezidi (Ezidi) religious minority recently freed from the Islamic State in Syria have returned to their home region in Iraq's northern Nineveh Province, the Iraqi Ministry of Interior announced on Saturday.
The statement comes hours after the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) announced the territorial collapse of the Islamic State in Syria, following the liberation of the group's last small patch of land in the village of Baghouz, near the Iraqi border and on the eastern bank of the Euphrates River.
Border security forces allowed “the entrance of 21 Ezidis that were kidnapped by Da’esh [ISIS],” said the ministry, which controls security along the nation's borders.
“15 women and six children were received through the al-Fao crossing in Sinjar [Shingal] on the Iraqi-Syrian border,” the statement explained, further adding that they “facilitated” the Ezidi group’s “processing and return to their homes.”
The emergence of the Islamic State and its violent assault on Shingal led to the displacement of hundreds of thousands of members of the Ezidi community, who were considered by the terrorist group to be heretics. 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. The terrorists 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.
As of now, over 3,300 Ezidis have been rescued from an estimated total of 6,417 kidnapped or otherwise missing, according to the Kurdistan Region’s office in charge of their rescue and repatriation.
The United Nations announced on Friday that the unearthing of the first mass grave filled with Yezidis Ezidis killed by the Islamic State had been completed in a village in Shingal.
Editing by John J. Catherine