Kidnapped Yazidi women 'sold to Islamists' in Syria
Dozens of Yazidi women who were kidnapped in Iraq by militants from the Islamic State group have been taken to Syria, forced to convert and then sold to the jihadists as "wives", the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Saturday.
"The Observatory documented at least 27 cases of those being sold into marriage by Islamic State members in the northeast of Aleppo province, and parts of Raqa and Hassakeh province," a statement said.
"In recent weeks, some 300 women and girls of the Yazidi faith who were abducted in Iraq have been distributed as spoils of war to fighters from the Islamic State."
The NGO said it was unclear what had happened to the rest of the 300 women and strongly denounced the "sale of these women, who are being treated as though they are objects to buy and sell".
The NGO said it had also documented several cases in which the fighters then sold the women as brides for $1,000 each to other Islamic State members after forcing them to convert to Islam.
It added that some Syrian Arabs and Kurds had tried to buy some of the women in a bid to set them free, but that they were only being sold to Islamic State members.
Both UN officials and Yazidis fleeing Islamic State advances in Iraq have said the fighters kidnapped women to be sold into forced marriages. UN religious rights monitor Heiner Beilefeldt warned earlier this month of reports of women being executed as well as kidnapped by the militants.
"We have reports of women being executed and unverified reports that strongly suggest that hundreds of women and children have been kidnapped – many of the teenagers have been sexually assaulted, and women have been assigned or sold to 'IS' fighters," she said.
Yazidis, a Kurdish-speaking minority who follow an ancient faith are dubbed "devil worshippers" by the militants because of their unorthodox blend of beliefs and practices.
The Islamic State group is a former Iraqi affiliate of al Qaeda but has since broken with the terrorist network. The group espouses a radical interpretation of Sunni Islam and has pursued a campaign of terror – including decapitations, crucifixions and public stonings – across areas of Iraq and Syria that it deems part of an Islamic "caliphate".
In June the group launched a lightning offensive in Iraq, overrunning parts of five provinces.
In August it captured villages in the area of Mount Sinjar, causing members of the Yazidi minority to flee and prompting the US to begin airstrikes against the militants to prevent what it called a "genocide" against the Yazidi.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP)
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