Over 3 years ago, ISIS stormed into territories in areas of northern Iraq populated to a high degree by Yazidis. ISIS’ treatment of the Yazidis in the region was particularly brutal. One event that has stood out during ISIS’ expansion into northern Iraq was the massacre committed against Yazidis in Sinjar in August 2014.
During the process of ISIS’ expansion, their militants not only committed massacres but also kidnapped local inhabitants, especially young children and women. Many young children were recruited into the ranks of the ISIS military and women were often sold as sex slaves both in Iraq and Syria.
The fate of many of these victims is still unknown to the Yazidi community of Iraq. The Directorate of Yazidi Affairs has asserted that there are an estimated 3,000 Yazidis who are still missing, whether dead or alive. The Directorate has called on the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and international organisations to assist them in investigating the fate of these missing people.
According to the statistics collated by the Directorate of Yazidi Affairs, estimates for the population of Yazidis in Iraq in 2014 veered around 550,000. 100,000 are considered to have escaped the country after the ISIS rampage, while a further 370,000 have been displaced to either Iraqi Kurdistan or neighbouring Syria.
The Yazidis have been a particular target for ISIS due to the perception of them being “heretics” in the eyes of the terrorist group. Yazidi civilians have been susceptible to massacres, mostly notably during the Sinjar and Kojo massacres of 2014.
Several Yazidi women in Sinjar, however, resisted ISIS in Iraq under numerous banners, including the “Brigades of Sinjar Resistance” and “Brigades of Sinjar Women Resistance”. Sinjar was eventually liberated in 2015 as a result of the offensive in November named “The Fury of Melek Taus”.
In Syria, some joined the YPJ (Women’s Protection Units), which are part of the YPG (People’s Protection Units), to combat ISIS.