Yezidis flee just ahead of ISIS in August 2014. File photo: Ahmed al-Rubaye | AFP
DUHOK, Kurdistan Region — A group of Yezidis is still being held captive by ISIS in the group's dwindling bastion in eastern Syria while others are at camps designed for the extremists’ families in Iraq.
"Some of them in the Sousa area of Syria have called us saying due to frequent bombings they live in misery," Daud Elias, who is from Kocho village and has 15 members of his family missing, told Rudaw.
Elias says around 10 Yezidis held by ISIS in Sousa in Deir ez-Zor are pleading for help by phone.
The Kurdish led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have been battling to defeat ISIS in their enclave of Hajin and Sousa towns in Deir ez-Zor governorate on the Iraqi border.
The SDF has reported ISIS heavy losses.
Based on information given to Elias by their relatives held in the Syrian town, some of the Yezidis have died in coalition bombings targeting ISIS.
"The warplanes have been bombing the town recently, killing some Yezidi children and women," Elias claimed, adding they are living in a "terrible situation" as ISIS is using them as "human shields.”
Elias said a Yezidi woman he spoke with is asking the relevant authorities in the Iraqi government and Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to reach out to free them.
"The woman called for her voice to be heard and to reach out to Kurdistan and Iraq," he said.
"Those living under ISIS are subject to be killed as ISIS territory continues to shrink and the group's militants have all gathered in this small pocket," he said, quoting the woman.
Though the US-led international coalition backed operation to clear ISIS from the Middle Euphrates River Valley, elements of the Iraqi military have supported the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
The SDF and KRG have been unable to reach a deal on cross-border support. The KRG has thousands ‘Roj Peshmerga’ originally from Syria, but they have longstanding differences with the dominate Democratic Union Party in Syria.
Basim Khidir, a KRG authority in the office for the rescuing of kidnapped Yezidis, confirmed Elias's reports.
"We are also aware of the fate of some Yezidis still held by ISIS especially those in Sousa in Deir ez-Zor," Khidir said.
In addition to Syria, Khidir added that other Yezidis are held in special camps for ISIS relatives in Iraq.
Exact figures on the number of Yezidis rescued remains unknown, as Baghdad, Erbil, and non-governmental organizations separately report figures.
"We are trying to rescue some of them. And for others we are searching for a solution in order to also rescue them," he said.
Located in the Shingal region on the Iraq-Syria border — north of Mosul — the Yezidi homeland was overrun by the extremists in August 2014.
Thousands of Yezidis were summarily executed with others being kidnapped in a KRG and UN recognized genocide.