BAGHDAD: Iraqi forces in Mosul have freed an 11-year-old Yazidi girl who was kidnapped and sold as a slave by the Islamic State group in 2014, the federal police said on Friday.
The girl was taken by the militants from the village of Kosho, south of the Yazidi hub of Sinjar in northern Iraq, together with her mother and sisters. She was freed during an operation by the security forces on Thursday in the west Mosul neighbourhood of Tanek, federal police chief Lieutenant General Raed Shakir Jawdat said in a statement. The elite Counter-Terrorism Service has been operating in the area and secured more than half of the neighbourhood on Thursday.
“They, who kidnap these children, are monsters,” Major General Jaafar al-Baatat, Jawdat’s top aide, said in a statement which was released with a video showing the girl at a police base south of Mosul.
Vian Dakhil, a prominent Yazidi lawmaker who helped bring her minority’s plight to the world’s attention when IS militants swept through the region in 2014, said the girl’s release had been carefully planned. “When IS took her village on August 15, 2014, she was eight years old and she was kidnapped with her mother and her sisters,” she told a foreign news agency. She was initially taken to Tal Afar and was sold on to Mosul.
Yazidis are neither Arab nor Muslim and when IS swept across northern Iraq almost three years ago, it carried out massacres against the minority which the United Nations said qualified as genocide. Most of the several hundred thousand members of the minority live in northern Iraq, mainly around Sinjar, a large town which anti-IS forces have now retaken but was extensively destroyed.
IS militants captured Yazidi women and turned them into sex slaves to be sold and exchanged across their self-proclaimed ‘caliphate’. Around 3,000 of them are believed to remain in captivity.