ISIS frees around 350 Yazidi captives in Iraq

2015-01-17 22:34
Displaced Iraqis from the Yazidi community arrive at Nowruz camp, in Derike, Syria. (File, AP)

Displaced Iraqis from the Yazidi community arrive at Nowruz camp, in Derike, Syria. (File, AP)

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Kirkuk - Islamic State freed around 350 members of Iraq's Yazidi minority on Saturday, delivering them to safety in the country's Kurdish north.

Almost all those released were elderly, disabled, or unwell, and included several infants with serious illnesses, according to a Reuters reporter who saw them arrive in the Kurdish-controlled city of Kirkuk.

Islamic State militants attacked Yazidis in northwest Iraq last summer, killing or capturing and enslaving thousands of the minority group.

Those who could fled to the autonomous Kurdistan region, where many are living in camps along with other religious and ethnic minorities as well as Sunni Muslims displaced by the Islamist militants.

One of the freed Yazidis, who was in his 70s, said Islamic State fighters had ordered them to get into buses on Saturday, and they feared they were going to be executed.

Instead, they were driven to the Islamic State-controlled Shirqat area, where they spent the night, and from there to Hawija at the southwestern entrance of Kirkuk.

Kurdish peshmerga forces drove back Islamic State militants in northwestern Iraq last month, breaking a long siege of Sinjar mountain where thousands of Yazidis had been stranded for months. But many Yazidi villages remain under ISIS control.

Yazidi beliefs combine elements of several ancient Middle Eastern religions. Islamic State fighters say the Yazidi must embrace their radical version of Islam or die.

Read more on:    isis  |  iraq
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