ISIS: Yazidi Women Held Captive By The 'Hundreds'

Tara Dodrill

ISIS kidnapped "hundreds" of Yazidi women and is holding them captive. The Islamic militant group has rounded up women below the age of 35, and is keeping at least some of them at schools in Mosul, according to the Iraq Human Rights Ministry. Mosul is the second largest city in the Middle East country.

Yazidis fled the region by the tens of thousands earlier this month after ISIS captured Sinjar, a town in northern Iraq. The town is near the Syrian border. The Yazidis practice an ancient religion that the radical Sunni Muslims reportedly consider heretical.

As previously reported by The Inquisitr, scores of Yazidi refugees were found hiding, hungry, and thirsty, on top of a mountain -- many with nothing more than the clothes on their backs. U.S. airstrikes are now occurring in an attempt to help Iraqi forces stop the ISIS siege on Mount Sinjar.

The Yazidis (or Yezidis) are an ethno-religious minority who largely live in the area of northern Iraq in the Nenevah province and Iraqi Kurdistan. There are about 600,000 Yazidis worldwide, VOX reports. Approximately 400,000 to 500,000 Yazidis live in northern Iraq and Kurdistan. The group which follows the dictate of the ancient religion are also often referred to as ethnic Kurds.

Yazidi history excerpt from a Vox report:

"Most Yazidis do consider themselves Kurds. But Iraq's Ba'athist government disagreed. Beginning around 1975, they labeled them an Arab offshoot, according to Maisel, in order to 'distance them from the Kurdish population.' The Ba'athist government decreed that Yazidis were descendants of Yazid bin Mu'awiya, the ancient caliph whom Shia Muslims remember ruefully as the murderer of the, in their view, rightful Caliph Husayn bin'Ali after Muhammed's death. This would make the Yazidis ethnically Arab — it would also alienate them from Shia Muslims, who are the Iraqi majority, and perhaps make Yazidis more reliant on the Sunni Ba'athist government. The goal, according to Maisel, was to separate the Yazidis from the Kurds, who wanted political autonomy, and make them loyal to Arab Iraq. But it did this in a truly heavy-handed and brutal way."

During the 1970s and 1980s, Saddam Hussein relocated Yazidis forcefully from their traditional home in the Sinjar Mountains region. The people were ushered into cinderblock villages, given Arabic names, forced to speak Arabic and not Kurdish, and subsided as best they could in the "poorly-resourced" areas.

The Yazidi religion was originally persecuted in the Middle East because many misunderstood the practice and regarded it as Satanism.

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