Kurdish forces free 31 Yezidi abductees after storming ISIS detention center on Syria-Iraq border

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Yezidi women escaping Shingal area in northern Iraq, heading to the Syrian border, after ISIS stormed Shingal region, August 2014. Photo: ARA News

ARA News

ERBIL – Kurdish forces of the Peshmerga, in cooperation with the Shingal Protection Units (YBS), broke into a detention center for the Islamic State (ISIS) on the Syrian-Iraqi border on Friday, and were able to free 31 Yezidi civilians who had been abducted by ISIS militants over a year ago, official sources reported. 

“A special unit from the Peshmerga and the YBS stormed a detention center for ISIS near the al-Hawl town on the Syrian-Iraqi border on Friday and freed 31 Yezidi abductees,” said Ahmed Shingali, official spokesman for the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) in Shingal (Sinjar).

“The joint operation was conducted after receiving information confirming that ISIS holds a number of Yezidi civilians in the targeted location,” Shingali said.

The Kurdish forces broke into the detention center after clashes with ISIS militants.

“Four ISIS members were killed in the clashes, before the remaining militants evacuated the area,” Peshmerga spokesman Jabbar Derwalli told ARA News, adding that two Peshmerga fighters and a YBS member were injured in the operation.   

“The freed abductees included 22 women and nine children,” the source said. “This successful operation has raised the morale of our forces in their struggle against ISIS.”    

In August 2014, ISIS extremists had taken control of Shingal, causing a mass displacement of nearly 400,000 Yezidi civilians towards Duhok and Erbil, in Iraqi Kurdistan. Tens of thousands of Yezidis remained trapped in Mount Sinjar, suffering mass killings, kidnappings and rape at the hands of ISIS extremists. Also, more than 3000 Yezidi women have been taken by the radical group as sex slaves.

After more than a year of ISIS occupation, the Yezidi region of Shingal was liberated in November at the hands of the Peshmerga, supported by the U.S.-led coalition’s air cover. 

After ISIS departure, the Kurdish forces have discovered several mass graves in Shingal. Most of the victims were women and children from the Yezidi minority. Specialized teams, that have been inspecting traces of the people disappeared during the group’s rule over the Yezidi-populated region, have so far discovered five mass graves belonging to Yezidi civilians, according to human rights activists and Peshmerga officials who spoke to ARA News. 

Reporting by: Sozbin Cheleng

Source: ARA News

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