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Over 3,000 Ezidis still remain in ISIS captivity: KRG

2018-05-30

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SULAIMANI – At least 3,000 people from the Ezidis minority group who were kidnapped by the Islamic State (ISIS) militants have been rescued, said an official from the Kurdistan Regional Government on Wednesday (May 30).

The KRG Coordinator for International Advocacy, Dindar Zebrai said authorities in the semi-autonomous Kurdish region have counted 6,417 Yazidis kidnapped by ISIS since August 2014.

There were 3,548 women among the kidnapped who were taken as sex slaves and endured constant rapes and beatings.

Zebari said thousands with various ethnic and religious backgrounds in Sinjar and areas in of Mosul province fell victim to ISIS, including several Ezidis whose fate is still unknown.

A total of 3,275 Ezidis have been rescued, including 2,083 women and girls, 1,292 former male ISIS captives, he added.

According to the KRG official, a total of 3,146 still remain in ISIS captivity and there are 1,465 women and 1685 men among them.

Since the ISIS emergency in 2014, as many as 68 temples and public centers of worship belonging to the Ezidis have been demolished and another 85 churches as well as three cemeteries belonging to the Christians have been destroyed by the militant group.

 The Ezidis are a religious sect whose beliefs combine elements of several ancient Middle Eastern religions.

Islamic State (ISIS) has systematically killed, captured, or enslaved thousands of Ezidis when it overran the town of Sinjar in northern Iraq in August 2014.

Proclaiming a theocratic caliphate based on a radical interpretation of Sunni Islam, ISIS has tried to erase the Ezidis’ identity by forcing men to choose between conversion to Islam or death, raping girls as young as nine, selling women at slave markets, and drafting boys to fight.

(NRT)