YPJ liberates a Yazidi woman from ISIS in Hol Camp

Yazidi woman Kovan Aidi Khourto, who was among thousands of Yazidi girls and women kidnapped by ISIS during the Shengal genocide in 2014, has been freed by the YPJ during the ongoing operation in Hol Camp.

As part of the ongoing Operation Humanity and Security in the Hol camp, the Women’s Defense Units (YPJ) managed to liberate a Yazidi woman from ISIS captivity. The woman is called Kovan Aidi Khourto and was born in the village of Hardan in the Shengal region. Kovan was among thousands of Yazidi girls and women kidnapped by ISIS during the massacre committed by ISIS against the Yazidi religious minority in the Shengal (Sinjar) area on August 3, 2014. 

ISIS kidnapped more than 5,000 Yazidi women from Shangal during its brutal attack on the region in August 2014. Most of them were sold in the ISIS slave markets in Syria and Iraq. The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) managed to liberate hundreds of Yazidi women from ISIS, especially after defeating ISIS in al-Bagouz.


Thousands of women and children taken prisoner

The city of Shengal in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq is the last contiguous settlement area of the Yazidi community. Thousands of Yazidis were murdered and thousands of women and children were taken prisoner in the 3 August 2014 onslaught on Shengal by ISIS militants. While ISIS gangs began murdering Yazidis in Shengal, the Peshmerga left, leaving the Yazidis behind, unprotected. The guerrillas of HPG (People’s Defense Forces) and YJA Star (Free Women’s Troops) and fighters of the YPG (People’s Defense Units) and YPJ (Women’s Defense Units) came to the Yazidi people's aid in the face of ISIS aggression. Thanks to a months-long selfless struggle, the city was liberated on 13 November 2015. After the liberation of the city, the HPG and YPG/YPJ subsequently withdrew in 2017. People who returned to their land after Shengal's independence reformed, established defensive units and built their institutions.

7000 Yazidi women from Shengal trafficked into slavery

ISIS abducted about 7000 Yazidi women from Shengal into slavery in 2014, some of whom are still in the hands of ISIS supporters in other countries. 2700 to 2800 people are still considered missing. Many of the abducted women were initially taken to Raqqa. During the crushing of the last ISIS enclave in al-Bagouz in eastern Syria in spring 2019, numerous Yazidi women and children were freed. However, not all of them identified themselves as Yazidis for fear of the consequences. During the almost five years of captivity at the hands of ISIS, children in particular were indoctrinated in Islamism and the women were told horror stories about the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The rapes also resulted in many children, which makes the situation even more difficult for the Yazidi women.