Six Iraqi Yazidis abducted by Islamic State group reunite with families

Six Iraqi Yazidis abducted by Islamic State group reunite with families
Six Yazidi women have been reunited with their families nearly a decade after being kidnapped by IS extremists during their rule over parts of Iraq.
2 min read
Women and girls from the Yazidi minority were subjected to forced marriages and sex slavery [Getty/archive]

Six women from Iraq's Yazidi minority were reunited with relatives on Wednesday, nearly nine years after being abducted by extremists of the Islamic State group.

The rescue of the women, now mostly in their early 20s, had been announced on Saturday by Nobel Peace Prize winner and Yazidi campaigner Nadia Murad.

There was music and celebrations on Wednesday as the women joined their families at a park in Dohuk in Iraq's northern autonomous Kurdish region, an AFP correspondent said.

"I am very happy to be reunited with my family," said one former captive aged 22, whose name was withheld out of concern for her safety.

"I hadn't seen them for nine years. I didn't expect that to happen."

She said she did not wish to comment about her detention.

Khairi Bouzani from Kurdistan's Kidnapped Yazidi Rescue Office, which oversees cases of missing Yazidis, said the six were first sent to Turkey being freed before travelling on to Iraqi Kurdistan.

Women and girls from the Yazidi minority, whose pre-Islamic religion earned them the hatred of IS extremists, were subjected to forced marriages and sex slavery during the militants' 2014-15 rule in Sinjar province, the Yazidis' traditional home.

Thousands of men from the Kurdish-speaking community were massacred.

"The women were still children and teenagers when they were first taken captive in 2014" by the extremists, Murad said on Saturday on the website of her association Nadia's Initiative.

Without saying how their release came about, Murad said Iraqi Kurdistan and Turkey deserved thanks for their roles.

IS militants kidnapped 6,417 Yazidis from Sinjar, 3,658 of whom have so far been rescued in Iraq, Syria and neighbouring Turkey, said Hussein Qaidi, director of the Kurdish rescue office.

Nearly six years after Iraq declared "victory" over IS, many Yazidis have still not been able to return to Sinjar because of the security situation.

Thousands still live in precarious conditions in camps for displaced people.