- Title: In northern Iraq, Yazidis risk all to flee Islamic State
- Date: 27th November 2016
- Summary: DUHOK, IRAQ (NOVEMBER 25, 2016) (REUTERS) YAZIDI MEN AND CHILDREN IN A HOUSE MAN USING SIGN LANGUAGE TO COMMUNICATE WITH DEAF AND DUMB YAZIDI WOMAN YAZIDI WOMAN COMMUNICATING WITH SIGN LANGUAGE GROUP OF YAZIDI WOMEN, AND CHILDREN IN HOUSE YAZIDI WOMEN AND MEN GREETING EACH OTHER TWO YAZIDI WOMEN WITH FACES COVERED AND CHILDREN SITTING ON CHAIRS WOMAN WITH SCARF COVERING HER FACE SITTING NEXT TO HER SON (SOUNDBITE) (Kurdish) UNIDENTIFIED YAZIDI WOMAN SAYING: "We used to be moved from place to place because of mortar attacks and we saw that this was our chance to escape. We saw people walking through the desert and we did the same and we made it finally. We walked through desert and mid-way we saw a shepherd who showed us the way and told us to go forward until we reached the peshmerga positions. He said that the road is clear of bombs and told us to take off our veils when we reach the peshmerga positions and we did. When we finally made it to a peshmerga position, we took off our veils and raised white banners." YAZIDI MEN, WOMEN AND CHILDREN IN HOUSE YAZIDI WOMEN AND CHILDREN NEAR DOORWAY (SOUNDBITE) (Kurdish) UNIDENTIFIED YAZIDI WOMAN SAYING: "We feel as if we were given a new life. We cannot believe that we are now among our families and relatives. We suffered a lot. We walked for five hours, we fell many times along the way and we cut our feet. Now I cannot walk." VARIOUS OF YAZIDI WOMEN AND CHILDREN INSIDE HOUSE (SOUNDBITE) (Kurdish) SECOND UNIDENTIFIED YAZIDI WOMAN, SAYING: "I don't know what has happened to them, or where they are. However, friends of my son told me that my son is at a training camp in Tal Afar and that he did not go to Syria. I do not know much about him, but he is there. My 20-year old daughter was also taken by Daesh and she is still missing." REUTERS CORRESPONDENT SPEAKING TO SECOND YAZIDI WOMAN AND HER SON WITH HIS FACE COVERED SECOND UNIDENTIFIED YAZIDI WOMAN SPEAKING (SOUNDBITE) (Kurdish) SECOND UNIDENTIFIED YAZIDI WOMAN, SAYING: "Daesh fighters gave us just enough to eat." REUTERS CORRESPONDENT AND MAN WITH CAMERA SITTING WITH SECOND YAZIDI WOMAN AND HER SON WITH HIS FACE COVERED SECOND UNIDENTIFIED YAZIDI WOMAN SPEAKING, SITTING NEXT TO HER SON WITH HIS FACE COVERED (SOUNDBITE) (Kurdish) SECOND UNIDENTIFIED YAZIDI WOMAN, SAYING: "When we finally made it to a peshmerga position, we took our veils off and raised our hands - with our all-black clothes we were scared they'd think we were Daesh and shoot us, therefore, we took off our all-black clothes to help them recognise us. They waved to us and we were so afraid, but I told our children: 'let's go to them. Either they will shoot and kill us or they will welcome us in.'" YAZIDI CHILD WITH DUMMY IN MOUTH (SOUNDBITE) (Kurdish) SECOND UNIDENTIFIED YAZIDI WOMAN, SAYING: "They used to take all the men to the mosque. They first took my husband and then my son, older than this (points to her son), leaving me alone with my three children. After that they tried to take the children but I refused." SECOND UNIDENTIFIED YAZIDI WOMAN AND GIRL AT TABLE
- Embargoed: 12th December 2016 09:45
- Keywords: ISIS IS Islamic State Yazidis Mosul
- Location: DUHOK, IRAQ
- City: DUHOK, IRAQ
- Country: Iraq
- Topics: Conflicts/War/Peace,Military Conflicts
- Reuters ID: LVA0015A7XP3B
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Yazidi women from the Tal Afar town told on Friday (November 25) of how they fled Islamic State territory on foot, walking across the desert overnight, as Shi'ite militias brought the fight to the militants in northern Iraq.
One man and 17 other members of the Yazidi religious community, one of Iraq's oldest minorities, moved to the town's outskirts while their Islamic State captors were busy with the battle.
Four days later, in the early evening, they fled. The group, which included women and children, walked overnight to safety.
One woman in her late 40s, who declined to give her name and who covered her face with a scarf, described the journey she made with her children.
"Mid-way we saw a shepherd who showed us the way and told us to go forward until we reach the peshmerga (Kurdish forces) positions. He said that the road is clear of bombs and told us to take off our veils when we reach the peshmerga positions and we did," she said.
"We feel as if we were given a new life. We cannot believe that we are now among our families and relatives. We suffered a lot," she added.
The group was captured when Islamic State overran Sinjar in northern Iraq in August 2014.
The insurgents systematically killed, captured and enslaved thousands of Yazidis, whose beliefs combine elements of several ancient Middle Eastern religions and are regarded by Islamic State as devil-worshippers.
A second woman in the group, who also wished to remain anonymous, said she heard her son was at a training camp in Tal Afar and her 20-year old daughter was also taken by Islamic State and was missing.
Mass Yazidi graves have been found since Kurdish forces retook areas north of Sinjar in December 2014, and the town itself in November 2015, but Islamic State had already transferred many Yazidis to other areas, including Tal Afar.
Reports from the area suggest thousands of people have fled Tal Afar in recent days as the Shi'ite paramilitary groups - assisting a U.S.-backed operation to drive Islamic State out of the city of Mosul to the east - advanced.
Most of those who have fled are from the town's Turkmen Sunni Muslim majority, fearing sectarian revenge by the Shi'ite fighters.
But Yazidis are also among them, and for those who managed to flee, living in a half-finished building in the northern city of Duhok, the escape has been a huge relief.
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