The announcement of victory over the Islamic State (IS) group in Syria is turning Ezidis’ hopes of finding their missing loved ones into despair as more than 3,000 members of their religious community who were kidnapped by the group in 2014 remain unaccounted for.
Ezidis hinged their last hope on discovering the fate of their missing in the Islamic State’s last territorial pocket in eastern Syria’s Baghouz.
On March 23, 2019, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) backed by coalition forces declared the end of the Islamic State group, after 5 years of fighting.
The end of IS is at a time the fate of more than 3,000 Ezidis, among them women and children who were believed to be held captives in Baghouz, remains unknown.
Hadya Faysal, whose husband and two daughters were among the kidnapped, has been living in hope throughout the past four years told KirkukNow, “We were waiting that all our kidnapped relatives be freed with the fall of IS, but only a few number has been rescued.”
“The end of IS has not brought me joy because I have been waiting my husband and two daughters for 4 years”, she said.
Hadya who is from Ninewa’s predominantly Ezidi town of Shingal (Sinjar) is living in an IDP camp in Duhok with her three sons.
This Ezidi woman is experiencing the feeling of frustration for the second time. The first time was when the Iraqi government declared final victory over IS in Iraq.
KRG’s office for Rescuing Ezidi Abductees has freed 3,385 Ezidis from IS captivity
In August 2014, Islamic State militants attacked Shingal, massacred hundreds of Ezidis and kidnapped as many as 6,417 others.
Hussein Qa’idi, head of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG)’s office tasked with rescuing Ezidi abductees, speaking to KirkukNow said, “Since our office was established our teams have managed to free 3,385 Ezidis from IS captivity.”
He stressed that their work is not done with the end of the IS caliphate, noting that they will continue the search for the remaining until the last abductee is found.
During the Syrian Democratic Forces’ battles against the Islamic State group in Baghouz tens of Ezidis were freed.
“We believe that large numbers of Ezidi abductees have been sheltered in camps in western Syria’s Rojava cantons along with families of IS fighters”, said Qa’idi.
Many of the Ezidi women and girls kidnapped by IS were taken to slave markets in Mosul and Raqqa and were sold and raped by their captors.