After the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) captured Sinjar, the surviving Yazidis fled onto Mount Sinjar. A year later, those forced from their homes will do anything to take back everything stolen by the terrorist group.
CNN’s Tim Lister interviewed 80-year-old Sharu Baharu, who is preparing for his second winter on Mount Sinjar.
“We fought as long as we could, but we had no weapons and they had so many,” he said. “We saw so many killed, but we escaped at night and came to the mountain.”
One Arab neighbor helped 60 Yazidis flee before ISIS stormed into town, but another neighbor took up arms for the group. Baharu said the man “killed nearly 20 people as they tried to leave.” Sinjar is mostly abandoned, except for some ISIS fighters.
Lister reported the other side of the mountain is completely different, especially the village of Snuny. The Kurdish forces expelled ISIS in December, but militants remain close by. Lister said it was empty in February. The last person to leave “scribbled appeals like ‘We need internationally help.’”
But now Yazidis are slowly returning:
Now the electricity supply has been restored, there is running water, and the first trickle of Yazidi civilians are returning to the homes that were not blown up by ISIS.
The fields that hug the Syrian border are being plowed; street kiosks sell vegetables, water and rice to Kurdish and Yazidi fighters and the few civilians who have dared come home. There is even a shisha café.
Those who returned are ready to fight back against ISIS. The Kurdish Peshmerga took in around 5,000 Yazidi fighters, mostly farmers with little experience. Kheiru Khalaf, 66, commands the troops.
“We need international support, we need heavy weaponry, especially now,” he exclaimed. “We stood against ISIS with nothing but machine guns. We withstood a huge enemy and stood strong. We need your help.”
Fighters have come to terms with the fact that life will never be the same. None believe they can reside with their Arab former neighbors “who turned on them” again. In February, Reuters published an extensive report of Yazidis exacting revenge on those neighbors who betrayed them to ISIS.
Kji Am Silu insists Yazidis “will never be safe” “without international protection.” Khalil Jindil, a teacher, does not believe the Iraqi justice system will do what is right.
“When we return to Sinjar, there will be no Daesh prisoners,” said another Yazidi.
While the number of skirmishes in the area against ISIS continue to grow, the main assault against ISIS “is fast approaching.” CNN and the Peshmerga did not state exactly when it will happen, but Kurdish fighters believe “that ISIS fighters will melt away within hours once the attack on Sinjar begins.”
While infighting among Kurdish militias has stalled the offensive, CNN witnessed many Kurdish fighters at checkpoints and bases in Sinjar. They do not want to leave because they believe “they have played the main role in fighting ISIS here and claim that Iraqi Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani wants to claim the glory for recapturing Sinjar.”