16--year-old Inas reunites with members of her extended family after she was freed more than three years after she was kidnapped by ISIS militants. Photo: Rudaw TV
DUHOK, Kurdistan Region – Two Yezidi children who were held captive by ISIS militants in Iraq and Syria for over three years have been rescued and reunited with their family in the Kurdistan Region.
The Kurdish authorities working through a smuggler were able to conduct a successful rescue operation that took a month of planning.
A girl, aged 16, and a boy aged 9, were both held by ISIS militants in Syria when they were rescued.
“ISIS were dirty. They were beating and abusing us. They also separates us from our relatives, among other things,” Inas, the Yezidi girl told Rudaw after she reunited with her relatives.
The fate of her parents, and two of her sisters is still unknown.
Her uncle was among the relatives who received her back in Duhok province where many of the Yezidi people who have been displaced as the result of the Yezidi genocide have taken refuge.
He said the family have been in contact with the rescuers for a month.
Walid, the 9-year old Yezidi boy, was received by his parents. His mother said he does not speak either Arabic or Kurdish, two languages widely used by the Yezidi community. The family is from the Yezidi town of Tal Qasab, near Shingal west of Mosul that was the focus of the ISIS onslaught in August 2014, displacing hundreds of thousands of the Yezidi population to the Kurdistan Region and elsewhere.
“We are very glad that our son has returned,” his mother said. “We hope that the remaining missing ones will return and head home.”
3,226 Yezidis have been rescued, according to the KRG office that is tasked with rescuing those who suffered at the hands of the ISIS group. There are still 3,191 people in ISIS captivity or their fate are unknown.
Khalil Asaf, the smuggler who helped rescue the two children, said that the boy was held by an Iraqi ISIS militant.
Kurdish authorities have spent millions of dollars to locate and rescue the Yezidis held by the ISIS militants in Iraq and Syria.
Note: names of the two Yezidi children have been changed to protect their identity.