At least 150 Yezidi captives have been freed from ISIS grip since the US-backed Iraqi and Kurdish forces launched a battle for Mosul last October, officials said on Wednesday.
The Yezidi Liberation Office confirmed that 150 women and children have been liberated from ISIS captivity in Mosul over the past three months.
“All Yezidi civilians freed from ISIS are being registered by the office. We are also documenting their testimonies,” said Hussein Koro, chief of the Yezidi Liberation Office.
According to the organization, there are still more than 2600 Yezidis held by ISIS, mostly women and underage girls.
“There is a plan to liberate the rest of the captives. Soon they’ll all be freed with the support of the coalition and local forces,” Koro said.
According to the Kurdish journalist Hewar Duhoki, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) bears the responsibility of freeing the Yezidi captives from ISIS grip. “This requires a lot of serious efforts, especially that ISIS started using civilians as human shields to protect its Iraqi de facto capital of Mosul,” Duhoki told ARA News.
In August 2014, ISIS radicals took over the Yezidi region of Shingal/Sinjar in northern Iraq, causing a mass displacement of nearly 400,000 people to Duhok and Erbil in Iraqi Kurdistan. Tens of thousands of Yezidis remained trapped in Mount Sinjar, suffering mass killings, kidnappings and rape cases, according to local and military sources. Also, thousands of Yezidi girls have been taken by the radical group as sex slaves.
On November 13, the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in Iraqi Kurdistan, backed by an air cover from the US-led coalition forces, announced the liberation of the entire Yezidi district of Shingal in the northern Iraqi province of Nineveh after fierce battles with ISIS extremists. The Kurdish forces have recently discovered more than five mass graves in the Yezidi region, where hundreds of Yezidi civilians have been summarily executed and buried by ISIS jihadis. Yet, thousands of Yezidi women remain in ISIS captivity after being sold as sex slaves across the group’s territory in Iraq and Syria.