By Reuters – Aug 21,2017 – JORDAN TIMES
A displaced Iraqi girl from Tal Afar washes her clothes in Salamya camp, east of Mosul, Iraq August 6 (Reuters photo)
ERBIL — As Iraqi forces pressed their offensive to retake Tal Afar on Monday, a Yazidi politician urged them to quickly rescue the many Yazidi men, women and children still believed to be held captive in the city by the Daesh terror militants.
Vian Dakhil, a member of the Iraqi parliament, said the fate of children who had been kidnapped, sold or had their identities changed was of particular concern.
Dakhil won international prominence in 2014, when she stood up in parliament and begged for help for the religious minority that had come under militant attack in Sinjar.
The Yazidi area in northern Iraq had previously been home to about 400,000. In a matter of days, more than 3,000 Yazidis were killed and about 6,800 kidnapped, either sold into slavery or conscripted to fight for Daesh.
More than 3,000 women and children are still believed to be held captive by Daesh, according to community leaders.
“We ask the leaders of the military and security forces to take precautions regarding the large number of kidnapped Yazidis still present in Tal Afar and its surrounding villages,” Dakhil said in a statement.
She urged the advancing Iraqi force to rescue the enslaved Yazidis “as soon as possible”.
Dakhil asked for rescued Yazidis to be separated from other fleeing civilians and not be sent to refugee camps.
Tal Afar is one of the few remaining Daesh strongholds in northern Iraq.
Between 10,000 and 40,000 people are thought to remain in Tel Afar and its surrounding villages, with more than 30,000 having fled since April, according to UN estimates.
Important for its position along the supply route between Mosul and Syria, it has produced some of Daesh’s most senior commanders and was cut off from the rest of Daesh-held territory in June.
About 2,000 battle-hardened militants remain in Tel Afar, according to US and Iraqi military commanders.
Iraqi security forces launched their offensive to retake Tel Afar on Sunday. Announcing the start of the operation, Prime Minister Haider Al Abadi told extremists to “surrender or die”.
Several surrounding villages and roads had already been retaken by the second day of the offensive, with a view to trapping the remaining militants in the city itself. A federal police spokesman said a network of tunnels had also been seized.
“We are cutting off the arms of the octopus to make it weaker and vulnerable,” Colonel Kareem Al Lami of the Iraqi army’s 9th Division, said.