Yazidi girl returns home to Iraq after years of IS captivity

Baghdad (AFP) –


A Yazidi girl abducted by the Islamic State group returned to Iraq Sunday to be reunited with her family after the coronavirus lockdown in Syria delayed her homecoming, a community member said.

Layla Eido, 17, was among dozens of women and girls from Iraq's minority Yazidi community who were abducted by IS from their ancestral home of Sinjar in 2014.

The women were enslaved, systematically raped, or married off by force to jihadists, but for Eido the nightmare came to an end when the jihadist group's so-called "caliphate" collapsed last year.

Since then, she had been stuck in the Kurdish-run Al-Hol camp in northeast Syria, which had become home to thousands of IS wives and their children.

But several months ago she managed to contact her family in Iraq and just as she was about to be reunited with them, the COVID-19 pandemic forced both Iraq and Syria to close their borders, delaying her return.

On Sunday, Eido, who was 11 when she was abducted, finally made her way back to Iraqi territory along with another Yazidi survivor called Runia Faisal, an activist from the minority community told AFP.

Both girls who entered Iraq are "in good health", the activist said.

During her stay in Al-Hol, Eido had kept the fact that she was Yazidi a secret, fearing for her safety.

The jihadists "used to scare us and tell us the Kurds would kill us if we told them who we really were", Eido had told AFP earlier this month.

The activist said Kurdish forces helped both girls return to Iraq.