ARA News 

ERBIL – Fifty-one Yezidi prisoners were released by the Islamic State (ISIS) following an exchange of prisoners between the jihadi group and the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), officials confirmed on Thursday.

Speaking to ARA News, Matthew Barber, the executive director of the Yezidi rights organization YAZDA, said the released prisoners have arrived to Duhok province in Iraqi Kurdistan. 

“It is unusual that 51 are released in one rescue,” he said. 

“The freed civilians arrived to Duhok, they are back to their families,” Barber said.

“The released are 51 Yezidis from around 10 families; they are mothers and their kids. No males,” he told ARA News. “The men were probably all dead.”

“It is wonderful that 51 people came back from captivity,” he said. “It is the first largest single release.”

“In April of 2015, there was a release of 200 Yezidis in Kirkuk. In fall of 2014, 97 were released. This is the third largest group of Yezidi captives to be released by ISIS.” 

Last week, 19 Yezidis were rescued by the Kurdish forces of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) north of Raqqa. 

According to Barber, the PKK was holding the wife of a high-ranking ISIS commander, which helped them to force ISIS release a large number of Yezidi captives.

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg

Source: ARA News

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