The Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) has destroyed towns, villages, temples, and tombs in Syria and Iraq. They have also torn families apart and left many children orphans in the wake of their destruction. The Yazidi minorities suffered the most in northern Iraq. Hundreds of children are without parents.
On August 3, the terrorist group advanced to Sinjar, which is one of very few cities in the world Yazidis call home. The residents fled to Mount Sinjar, but the majority of families were split apart. Zeit Rachid, 18, lost his family on the way to the mountain.
“They told me to run,” he said. “We had to escape! In that catastrophe I lost them. I really don’t know how it happened.”
Zeit is with distant relatives in the village of Sharya, which is about 14 miles from the Kurd city of Duhok. However, he is 108 miles from his home. He hopes to one day be reunited with his family, but he is “sure they are dead.”
The boy is not alone in Sharya. Over 25,000 Yazidis settled in the village, along with 28 orphans. An uncle took in Gulestan, 19, and her sister Dalar, 11, after the girls were separated from their mother in the mountains.
“Daash [ISIS] was shooting at us, and we had to run to save our lives,” said Gulestan. “My mother could not. She sent us up and went back down herself.”
The Telegraph‘s Baroness Nicholson said she could not forget Adnan, a ten-year-old orphan she met in Dohuk. She reported:
His told me his entire family, Yazidis, had been wiped out by a shell that landed as they fled their homes in Northern Iraq. He was the only survivor in a group that was attacked as they climbed up the side of a mountain.
Adnan said his mother; father and siblings had been behind him when he heard the explosion. He searched but couldn’t find anyone.
Adnan, like all the others, is now condemned to living as a refugee, certainly for the short term and possibly a great deal longer.
John Irvine provided a special report for NBC about the human cost of the Islamic State’s attacks in Syria and Iraq. He met five-year-old Nervine, who lost her father in an al-Qaeda attack in 2009. Her mother died on Mount Sinjar.
The Islamic State told Yazidis to convert to Islam or die. They killed 500 of the people, buried some alive, and took hundreds of girls as slaves. British women jihadists set up brothels in Syria and forced the Yazidi women to work as sex slaves. A few girls escaped and told their story. Several men raped one 17-year-old numerous times.
“Our torturers do not even spare the women who have small children with them,” she said. “Nor do they spare the girls – some of our group are not even 13 years old. Some of them will no longer say a word.”