IS releases over 200 Yazidi captives in Iraq

Baghdad : The Islamic State (IS) terrorist group released 216 Yazidis it kidnapped months ago in Iraq, a Kurdish security source said on Wednesday.

The Kurdish security forces, Peshmerga, received all those released Yazidis from the IS militants in the town of al-Rashad, some 40 km southwest of the city of Kirkuk, the source told Xinhua news agency on condition of anonymity.

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The captives were held in the militant-seized city of Mosul, the capital of Nineveh province, some 400 km north of the capital of Baghdad, the source said.

Since last August, hundreds of Yazidi minority members have been killed or kidnapped when the IS militants seized the town of Sinjar, some 100 km west of Mosul.

The militants also reportedly kidnapped up to 500 Yazidi women, taking them to their bases in neighbouring Syria and Mosul.

As the religion of Yazidi minority, which is primarily Kurdish, comprises elements of several faiths, the Yazidis have been regarded by some people as “infidels”, which led to violent attacks by extremist Islamist groups against them.

There are about 600,000 Yazidis remaining in Iraq with roughly 80 percent of them living in the towns of Sinjar and Bashika in Nineveh province.

After the advance of the IS militants in northern Iraq, some 150,000 Yazidis, fearing the insurgents’ atrocities, fled their homes and went to the nearby Sinjar mountain, where many of them reportedly died of thirst and hunger.