137 Yazidi women and children kidnapped from Iraq’s Shingal by the jihadist Islamic State (IS) group in 2014 have been saved by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a female commander of the group has said.
Speaking to Hawar news agency, Nesrin Abdullah, the spokeswoman of the all-female Women’s Protection Units (YPJ) said the women and children had been rescued in the ongoing Wrath of Euphrates Operation led by the Kurdish-Arab dominated SDF in Raqqa and the adjoining areas.
Some of the women and children have been reunited with their families while others have been sent to the relevant authorities Abdullah said.
At least 1,800 Yazidi women and children are still thought to be in the hands of the extremist group, with some children being raised as jihadist fighters.
Thousands of women have been sold into sexual slavery and trafficked from Iraq to Syria and also Turkey. Most of the women are thought to be in Raqqa, IS last stronghold in Syria.
The Yazidis are a Kurdish speaking ethno-religious group native to the region. As a non-Muslim group they were targeted by IS following the group’s siege of Mosul. Thousands of Yazidis were killed and captured while hundreds of thousands were displaced.
The United Nations has called the persecution of the Yazidis by the IS genocide.