Freed Yezidi women and children from Iraq recounted their time as prisoners and slaves of the self-proclaimed Islamic State ISIS on Friday and Saturday, after reportedly being rescued by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) from the final ISIS-held enclave near Baghouz on Thursday.
Twenty-two-year-old Selwa Seydo and 20-year-old Teysir Sileman Hussein, freed Yezidi women from Iraq’s Shingal District, recounted their time as ISIS prisoners while speaking from the Syrian village of al-Suwar, Deir ez-Zor Governorate on Friday.
Seydo shared how she had been captured by ISIS alongside her mother, sister and brother, before "some Iraqi came to me and said he would take me for himself. I cried, I said I did not want this but there was nothing I could do."
"We stayed in Mosul for around 10 months. When he and his family had issues with ISIS, ISIS took me from him and brought me back to Raqqa. I was, of course, a handmaid to them," she added.
Hussein remembered how she was only 14 when ISIS arrived in her village and "gave us 15 days to become Muslim. They were approaching men and women and telling them to become Muslims."
Hussein went on to recount how one night ISIS members "put all the girls and women, between seven and 30 years old, on their vehicles and took us to Mosul. After that, they returned and kidnapped all the children."
"They treated me really badly, using me as a handmaid. They beat me when I had nothing to do. They would not give me food, they would not take me to doctor," said Hussein of her captivity under ISIS. On the prospect of returning to her home after being freed, Hussein said "I will have nobody. No mother, no father, no siblings. Only one sister and she is a captive of ISIS."
Seydo and Hussein were part of a group of eight Yezidis - five of which children - from Shingal who were reportedly rescued by SDF in Baghouz on Thursday. Footage shows them being transported by bus from al-Suwar to the Syrian town of Amuda, where a Yezidi safe house is reportedly located.
Mehdi Gazi Mihemed, a former ISIS child captive from Iraq’s Tal Afar, recounted his experience while speaking from Amuda on Saturday, reminiscing how "I was there in Tal Afar with my family, they took us to a house, then they kidnapped my father. They left me and my mother on a vehicle, then a second car came, they separated us, children, from our mothers and put us inside this car." Mihemed was eventually freed by the head of a school. "He told us 'just run, but don't tell anyone that I've freed you.' He showed us the way to the mountains."
Between Friday, March 1 and Thursday, March 7 at least 30 Yezidis freed from Baghouz were reportedly brought back to Shingal.