UN calls on forces fighting Islamic State to rescue Yezidi captives

NEW YORK, Helen Corbett (dpa) - The UN's human rights inquiry into Syria on Thursday called on countries fighting Islamic State to rescue Yezidi captives still missing three years after being taken by the extremist militia group.
As the offensive on al-Raqqa intensifies, Islamic State fighters are reportedly trying to sell enslaved Yezidi women and girls before attempting to flee Syria, the commission said in a statement.

Thousands of men and boys remain missing and 3,000 women and girls from the northern Iraqi religious community are still being subjected to brutal treatment including rape and beatings on a daily basis.
Some women and girls are being held in the city of al-Raqqa itself. The Syrian city is the de facto capital of the Islamic State's self-styled caliphate.
The UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian affairs said Tuesday it was concerned about the safety of thousands of civilians trapped inside al-Raqqa.
The commission urged coalition forces to use all means available to ensure Yezidi captives are set free during ongoing military operations.
Investigators from the Syria inquiry are also calling on the international community to bring Islamic State to justice for the crime of genocide - either by referring the situation to the International Criminal Court or an ad hoc tribunal in a relevant court.
Thousands of Yezidis were seized by Islamic State when it overran Iraq's north-western town of Sinjar in August 2014.
Many thousands also fled to nearby Mount Sinjar, an inhospitable 65-kilometre-long ridge, after the town was captured.
Sinjar was regained from Islamic State in late 2015. Thirty mass graves of Yezidis believed to have been executed by Islamic state have since been found in the town.
The radical Sunni militia Islamic State considers the Yezidi people, who practise an ancient faith, to be devil worshippers.
The Yezidi community is primarily made up of ethnic Kurds.
The commission has been mandated by the UN Human Rights Council to investigate and record all violations of international law in Syria since 2011.
The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) launched a military operation to retake al-Raqqa in November.
The SDF claimed half of al-Raqqa back from Islamic State in late July.

Sunday, August 6th 2017
Helen Corbett

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