Northeast Syria: Captive Yazidi woman rescued in al-Hol refugee camp

Northeast Syria: Captive Yazidi woman rescued in al-Hol refugee camp
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The woman has said that she was kidnapped in 2014 by ISIS members, and was sold and resold in slave markets with her deaf sister

A captive Yazidi woman was rescued by the fighters of the Kurdish Women's Protection Units (YPJ) on Saturday in an anti-ISIS operation in al-Hol refugee camp in northeast Syria.

The camp houses close to 60,000, predominantly children and women, who include perpetrators of violence under the Islamic State (ISIS), alongside victims and bystanders.

As part of an operation launched late August by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to root out active ISIS cells in the camp, YPJ fighters rescued the young Yazidi woman who was abducted by ISIS in 2014 during the jihadist group's attacks on Yazidi homeland Sinjar (Shengal) in Northern Iraq.

"ISIS members took us first to Mosul, and then we were transferred to Raqqa where we had been repeatedly raped, enslaved, and sold in slave markets," the woman said, describing the horrors she and her deaf sister experienced while being sold to different ISIS fighters.

Kurdish journalist Cahida Dersim said on Twitter that the woman's name is Wafa, and that she was abducted in her village Kocho in Sinjar when she was nine years old.

The 2014 Yazidi Genocide

Thousands of civilians were killed and thousands of women and children were captured by ISIS in August 2014, while ISIS attacks also resulted in the complete displacement of the Yazidi people living in the towns and villages south of Mount Sinjar.

Half a million people fled and were left defenseless against the attackers as the Peshmerga forces of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and units of the Iraqi government withdrew. Tens of thousands of Yazidis had to suddenly take refuge in Mount Sinjar. It is estimated that almost 350,000 Yazidis are still living in refugee camps in Iraqi Kurdistan and other areas.

A special UN investigation team announced in May 2021 that it had collected “clear and convincing evidence” that jihadists had committed genocide against Yazidis. In 2021, the Belgian and Dutch parliaments also recognized the Yazidi Genocide.