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Yazidis Exchanged for IS Prisoners


An Iraqi Yazidi girl carries wood in a conflict area in northern Iraq. Recently, Kurdish forces exchanged Islamic State fighters for Yazidi women and children.

An Iraqi Yazidi girl carries wood in a conflict area in northern Iraq. Recently, Kurdish forces exchanged Islamic State fighters for Yazidi women and children.

More than 50 Yazidi women and children were exchanged last week for Islamic State prisoners held by Kurdish forces in Syria.

Two IS commanders were exchanged for the women and children.

Kurds holding the two were part of the armed wing of the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party, known as the YPG.

The women and children were returned home to Sinjar in northern Iraq. Sinjar is the main city for Yazidis in Iraq. It was liberated from IS last year by Kurdish Peshmerga forces. Those fighters are supported by the U.S.-led coalition.

The Yazidis were taken from the same town 19 months ago, according to a Kurdish news agency.

“I have talked to some of them yesterday,” said Dawud Sheik Kalo, a Yazidi fighter. He said the women and children are safe.

A former prisoner told the Kurdish news agency she spent nine months in Iraq and 11 months in Syria.

A teenage Yazidi girl said her family was taken by IS.

“After we got to Syria, they separated the men from us,” she said. Media reports made no mention of Yazidi men being a part of the exchange.

Thousands of Yazidis were abducted or killed by IS in northern Iraq beginning in 2014. Women and girls were forced into sexual slavery by IS members, human rights groups say.

I’m Mario Ritter.

Sirwan Kajjo wrote this story for VOA News. Jim Dresbach adapted this story for Learning English and VOANews.com. Kathleen Struck was the editor.

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Words in This Story

liberatev. to free someone or something from being controlled by another person or group​

abductv. to take someone away from a place by force

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