CAFRIN, Syria — Local media outlet the Afrin Post reported the presence of Yezidi women previously kidnapped from Shengal (Sinjar) in Iraq by the Islamic State (ISIS) in the Turkish-occupied city of Cafrin (Afrin) in northwestern Syria.
The Afrin Post reported that it had detected the presence of foreign and Syrian ISIS terrorists accompanied by four Yezidi women known to have been kidnapped from Shengal in 2014 in the areas controlled by Ahrar al-Sharqiya terrorists in Rajo and Jinderes in the Afrin Region.
Former ISIS leader Abu Ahmed al-Athari was also reportedly seen in Cafrin, as was another ISIS leader of Albanian origin who was reportedly spotted in a village near Rajo.
The Islamic State kidnapped more than 6,000 Yezidis during its attack on Shengal in 2014. The fates of hundreds of the abducted are still unknown.
According to the Yezidi House organization in North and East Syria, during the past year, they were able to locate dozens of abducted children and women among the families of Islamic State (ISIS) members in Al-Hol Camp, east of Hasakah.
In January, a Yezidi woman managed to flee her captors in Busirah, east of Dayro Zcuro (Deir ez-Zor) in North and East Syria.
In August 2020, a 24-year-old Yezidi woman being held captive in the Turkish capital of Ankara was freed after her family paid a ransom for her release. The women, Zozan, was discovered to be in Turkey with her captor and his family who had reportedly been living in Turkey for several years.
The areas under Turkish occupation since the country’s direct involvement in the Syrian conflict in 2016 have witnessed widespread looting and destruction of archaeological and cultural heritage sites. Gravesites and places of worship are desecrated and ravaged in the hunt for artifacts or precious metals.
In April, members of the Turkish-backed and Syrian Coalition affiliated Syrian National Army (SNA) desecrated a Yezidi holy place, the Sheikh Ali shrine, in the village of Basoufan, south of Cafrin. The dome of the shrine was destroyed, and the tomb of Sheikh Ali exhumed in search of gold and artifacts. According to a local Yezidi, the shrine dates back to the first century A.D.
Yezidis are often targeted by extremists for their religious practices. It is often believed that the Yazidis bury their dead adorned with gold, though no such custom exists.
The United Nations Commission of Inquiry on Syria released a 25-page report on Tuesday calling on Turkey to put an end to wide-spread war crimes and crimes against humanity being committed by its proxy forces, the Syrian National Army (SNA), in the areas under its occupation.
According to the report, there is significant evidence that the Turkish-backed SNA has committed, and continue to commit torture, murder, displacement, rape, and the looting of property.