By Rodi Said and Ellen Francis QAMISHLI, Syria/BEIRUT (Reuters) - Islamic State militants enslaved Noura Khalaf for three years, dragging her from her small Iraqi village across their territory in Syria. They bought and sold her five times before she was finally freed with her children last week. Khalaf is one of many Yazidi women that Kurdish fighters in northern Syria have set out to free from Islamic State in covert operations, a female Kurdish militia commander told Reuters. They have dubbed the operation "revenge for the women of Sinjar", the homeland of Iraq's ancient Yazidi minority which Islamic State overran in the summer of 2014. The militants slaughtered, enslaved and raped thousands of people when they rampaged through northern Iraq, purging its Yazidi community. They abducted Yazidi women as sex slaves and gunned down male relatives, witnesses and Iraqi officials say. Nearly 3,000 women are believed to be still in captivity. Nisreen Abdallah, a commander in … [Read more...] about Revenge for Sinjar: Syrian Kurds free Islamic State slaves
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On Friday, Turkey opened its border to thousands of Kurds fleeing clashes with the " Islamic State " (IS) in neighboring Syria, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said. He added that he had given the order after receiving information that 4,000 people had arrived at the border seeking shelter. "When our brothers from Syria and elsewhere arrive at our borders to escape death ... without discrimination over religion or sect, we take them in and we will continue to take them in," Davutoglu told reporters Friday during a trip to Azerbaijan. On Friday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which tracks developments in the civil war from its headquarters in London, announced that IS had seized three more villages near the town of Ayn al-Arab, "Kobani" in Kurdish, bringing to 24 the number it had taken. The attack on Kobani prompted a call by political factions for Kurdish youth in Turkey's southeast to join the fight against IS across the border, just days after the US military had called … [Read more...] about Turkey lets in Syria Kurds fleeing ‘Islamic State’
Kurdish forces raised their flag in the center of Sinjar on Friday after encountering little resistance from IS, as Iraqi Kurdistan's President Massoud Barzani claimed the town had been "liberated" in only a day. US and Kurdish officials had earlier cautioned against claiming victory too soon. The town still needs to be cleared of IEDs and booby-traps, and Kurdish fighters could still face suicide bombers. The light resistance put up by IS suggests they either fled or could stage a counterattack. US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Friday that he was "absolutely confident" Sinjar would be liberated. "There are some entrenched IS fighters, but we are absolutely confident that over the next days Sinjar will be able to be liberated," Kerry said during a visit to Tunisia. Backed by US air power, the operation includes some 7,500 peshmerga alongside Yazidi units. Turkey's banned rebel group, the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), also played a role despite a long simmering rivalry … [Read more...] about Kurds claim Sinjar ‘liberated’ from IS
Syrian Kurdish refugees, who took shelter in Turkey after fleeing from the atrocities of the PKK terrorist group's affiliate the People's Protection Units (YPG) say they want to return home but will only do so when the areas are freed from all terrorist threats. Muhammad Mashar Hassan, a 57-year-old Kurdish reverend who had been a teacher in Syria's Hasakah before they had to leave their town due to bombardments, told Anadolu Agency (AA) that many Syrian Kurds, like him, fled from provinces such as Ayn al-Arab, Ras al-Ayn or Qamishli because of the YPG terror group's systematic persecutions. "If Kurds were comfortable in the areas captured by the YPG, they would not migrate from there and would not leave their homes. Due to the terrorists' oppression, many Kurds fled to Turkey and Europe. People fled from the oppression they faced in placed they were born, raised and lived because the YPG did not accept anyone other than themselves," Hassan said. Hassan stressed that the YPG who tries … [Read more...] about Syrian Kurdish refugees want to return home once their territories cleared from YPG terrorists
As the skies over northeastern Syria blackened with smoke this week, as Turkish warplanes swooped down and gunfire and shelling resumed in what had briefly been an oasis of relative peace in the region, the world recognized what 36 million Kurds already knew: They had been betrayed, not for the first time, by their putative allies. In this case, the United States. It has been a constant theme in the history of the Kurds, an ethnic group indigenous to parts of Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey. The quest for their own country where they could freely speak their own language, a right denied them for most of the 20th century, has come to define the Kurds, along with the broken promises of world powers that are happy to enlist the tough mountain people to fight their battles, but in the end find a reason to cut a deal with the national governments that have standing armies — and oil. It was a decision by President Trump on Sunday, after he spoke with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan … [Read more...] about A history of selling out the Kurds, people with 'no friends but the mountains'