Isis release over 200 captive Iraqi Yazidis to Kurdish forces - video

Reports said many were suffering from ill health, while others bore signs of abuse

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The Independent Online

More than 200 north-western Iraqi Yazidis that had been held captive by Isis since last summer have been freed.

A report by Reuters on Wednesday said 216 people, mostly made up of the elderly and infirm, were released to Kurdish forces near the Kurdish held city of Kirkuk.

Around 40 children were also released.

The report said that many of those spotted being handed over were suffering from ill health, with others bearing signs of abuse. It is the second time that a group of Yazidis has been released to Kurdish forces in recent months, with Isis handing over 200 Yazidis in January.

It is still unknown why, in both cases, Isis decided to hand over such a large number of Yazidis.

Kurdish military officials believe that feeding and caring for the captives had become "too expensive". Many of those released were “too disorientated” to talk but some did describe what had happened to them under Isis rule.

One woman, who preferred not to be named, said she had been captured after Isis made notable advances in the Sinjar province last August.

She said since then Isis had terrorised the Yazidi population, killing hundreds and taking many more captive.

The Yazidis are a religious community that live mainly in north-west Iraq, north-west Syria and south-east Turkey. Their beliefs consist of an amalgamation of Christianity, Islam and the ancient Persian faith of Zoroastrianism.

Isis considers Yazidis “devil-worshippers” and there have been a number of reported atrocities by insurgents against the Yazidi community during their advance. Last month, the United Nations said genocide might have been committed against the Yazidis.

The Iraqi army announced on Wednesday that it was making significant gains in the western province of Anbar, following a new offensive in the area.

Supported by US-led coalition air support, the Iraqi army said that it had managed to make inroads into the area near Sijariya area, east of the region's capital Ramadi, an Isis dominated area.

The new offensive comes after a recent over Isis in the battle for the city Tikrit.

Additional reporting by agency