SHARYA, ISIS: Khaled Taalou, a member of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, is still striving to release other missing relatives captured by Daesh group fighters after paying approximately $100,000 in ransom to free ten family members.

Despite his efforts, five more relatives, as well as thousands of other Yazidis, are still missing after being kidnapped by jihadists.

“We’re still searching.” “We don’t give up,” the 49-year-old stated.
Daesh stormed over Mount Sinjar, the historic home of Iraq’s Kurdish-speaking minority, in August 2014.

They slaughtered thousands of Yazidi men, conscripted youngsters, and kidnapped thousands of women to be sold as “wives” to jihadists or subjected to sexual slavery.
The Yazidis, who have a non-Muslim monotheistic faith, were branded heretics by Daesh.
The atrocities committed by Daesh were described as genocide by UN investigators.
Taalou’s family was kidnapped, along with his brother and sister, as well as their husbands and children.

“We borrowed as much money as we could, here and there, to get them out,” the journalist and author explained.

Taalou, who is now displaced and residing in Sharya, a village in Iraqi Kurdistan, after abandoning his home in Sinjar, has managed to release ten relatives over the course of seven years.

Expensive releases are arranged “via networks of traffickers in Iraq and abroad,” according to him.

In February 2022, his brother’s grandchild was discovered in a Syrian camp. He has learnt that, in addition to five missing relatives, two family members were killed in aerial bombardments during the struggle against Daesh.

Following the jihadists’ fast growth in 2014, Iraq declared victory in 2017, while the group’s last Syrian bastion was retaken in 2019.

However, the toll left by their self-proclaimed caliphate is still being tallied. Mass graves in Sinjar are still being excavated, and the International Organization for Migration reports that over 2,700 Yazidis are still missing, with some still in Daesh captivity and “the whereabouts of others uncertain.”

When Daesh invaded Sinjar, Bahar Elias was separated from her husband Jassem and their son Ahmed, who was only 19 years old at the time.

Bahar and her three younger sisters were released after relatives paid $22,000 to intermediaries.

The 40-year-old, who is now living in a displaced persons camp near Sharya, said she had her “eyes glued to the road” in the hopes that her husband and son will return.

She requested worldwide cooperation to “help us find a trace of our families, to find out if they are dead or alive.”

Knowing their fate, she claimed, would allow her “to be free from pain.”
According to Hussein Qaidi, the head of a public office in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region tasked with rescuing kidnapped Yazidis, Daesh seized 6,417 Yazidis from Sinjar.
Over 3,500 people have been rescued in Iraq or neighboring Syria and Turkey.
He estimates that 2,855 Yazidis are still missing and says his team is working nonstop to “gather all available information and free all the kidnapped.”

Hayam was 17 years old when Daesh kidnapped her, along with her parents, five sisters, and two brothers, on August 3, 2014.

She has managed to reconstruct her life in Sharya after a trek over area once controlled by the jihadists.

She met Leila, a fellow Yazidi, in a Daesh prison. Hayam was sold to a Syrian in May 2015, and Leila to an Iraqi.

Hayam was entrusted to a man from Dagestan four months later before escaping and reaching Iraqi Kurdistan after a year and a half in captivity.

She later married Leila’s brother, Marwan, and the couple and their two children fled to Australia, where Hayam has family waiting for them.

She has the word “huriya” (freedom) tattooed on her wrist and has no plans to return to her former residence.

“Nothing awaits us in Sinjar,” she claimed, adding that her relatives and friends have left.
“Some were killed, others are still Daesh captives, and others have fled.” “Everything is different now.”





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