Iraqi forces free two Yazidi women during assault on ISIS-held Fallujah

Iraqi Kurdish female fighter Haseba Nauzad (2nd R), 24, and Yazidi female fighter Asema Dahir (3rd R), 21, aim their weapon during a deployment near the frontline of the fight against Islamic State militants in Nawaran near Mosul, Iraq, April 20, 2016. (Reuters)

Two Yazidi women have been rescued from ISIS captivity in Fallujah by Iraqi forces during an ongoing offensive to retake the militant stronghold, a representative of the minority said on Tuesday.

Vian Dakhil, a Yazidi member of the Iraqi parliament, thanked the army for rescuing the two women on Monday in a post on her official Twitter account. “My prayers for saving the rest,” she wrote.

More than 5,000 Yazidis, mostly women and children, were captured and enslaved by the militants when they overran the Sinjar area in northwestern Iraq in the summer of 2014, purging the minority they consider to be devil worshippers.

Since then, more than 2,000 Yazidis have escaped, been ransomed or rescued, but the rest remain unaccounted for.

Yazidi captives have been taken to towns and cities across the militants’ self-proclaimed caliphate in Iraq and Syria, including their de facto capitals of Raqqa and Mosul.

After Mosul, Fallujah is the largest Iraqi city still under control of the militants. Dakhil suggested in another Twitter post that many more Yazidis were being held in prisons there.

Iraqi forces backed by Shiite paramilitaries reached Fallujah’s southern outskirts on Monday, but faced fierce resistance overnight and paused.

Aid workers are warning of what they call a “human catastrophe” inside the city, which has been besieged by Iraqi forces for six months, trapping more than 50,000 people within.

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:47 - GMT 06:47