Iraq's Yazidis still haunted by Sinjar massacres

In August 2014, the Islamic State group launched a surprise offensive against Iraqi Kurdistan and seized control of Sinjar, a city inhabited mainly by Yazidis. The members of this religious minority are considered heretics by the jihadists. The terrorists slaughtered the men and kidnapped the women and children. Today, the jihadists have left, but hundreds of Yazidis are still missing. Survivors are trying to rebuild their lives in Sinjar, although many are reluctant to return.


The mountainous Iraqi region of Sinjar is the birthplace of the Yazidi community, a religious minority. In 2014-15, the Islamic State group jihadists massacred the Yazidis in and around Sinjar. Five years on, FRANCE 24 returned to the region.

As soon as the jihadists took control of Sinjar in the summer of 2014, they systematically executed the men. Thousands of women and children were kidnapped, with both women and young girls reduced to sexual slavery. Young boys were enlisted as child soldiers and forcibly converted to Islam. Those who did manage to escape found refuge in the mountains, exhausted and without food or water.

Peaceful cohabitation shattered

Our reporters caught up with members of a family that was destroyed in minutes, the time it took for the jihadists to park their cars in front of the house, kidnap the women and murder the men. Our team also met the brother of Nadia Murad, the young Yazidi woman who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2018. He has never left the scene of the massacre that he miraculously escaped.

This report tells of the daily lives of these survivors, haunted by their memories. Many of them are still looking for their relatives, held by the jihadists in Syria and Iraq. Several thousand Yazidis have no source of income and still live in refugee camps. This is also the story of a region where the peaceful cohabitation between different communities was shattered by jihadist rule.

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