Exclusive: Yazidi Girl Escapes ISIS, But Fate of Her Relatives Uncertain

By Khalaf Dakheel

Akhlas Khider is a young Yazidi survivor from Shingal. She is 18 years old and lives in Germany now, but when ISIS invaded her village, her life was changed forever.

She was studying in the 8th grade. Like many girls her age, she had a dream to finish school someday and become an artist. She had two sisters and three brothers. All of Akhlas’ family lived together in a modest house in Shingal.

The Khiders lived a simple life, but in only two hours their entire life changed when on August 3, 2014, ISIS militants invaded Shingal and all its surrounding villages.

At one point in 2014, ISIS controlled more than 34,000 square miles in Syria and Iraq, from the Mediterranean coast to south of Baghdad. At the end of 2016, ISIS territory had shrunk to about 23,320 square miles, according to IHS Jane’s.

In 2015, ISIS was believed to be holding 3,500 people as slaves, according to a United Nations report. Most of the enslaved were women and children from the Yazidi community, but some were from other ethnic and religious minority communities.

The Yazidis have inhabited the mountains of northwestern Iraq for centuries, and the region is home to their holy places, shrines, and ancestral villages.  Outside of Sinjar, the Yazidis are concentrated in areas north of Mosul, and in the Kurdish-controlled province of Dohuk

All this changed when Akhlas and her entire family were kidnapped by ISIS. Unlike other survivors, they didn’t have enough time to escape to Mount Shingal.

ISIS started by separating young girls, children, men and women from each other.  Akhlas was taken into captivity with 4,000 other Yazidi girls and women.

Akhlas told The National Discourse in an exclusive interview: “Daesh separated me from my family and killed my father in front of my eyes.  Once while I was in captivity, an ISIS fighter who was very frightening, fat and smelled so bad came and chose me to be used as a sex slave.

“I screamed a lot and cried but no one helped me. That man took me by force. Then every day for the following six months he used to hit and rape me in unimaginable ways. Similar things were happening to other Yazidi girls as well.

“I will never forget those young girls shouting for their moms while being raped and beaten by Daesh. I had never imagined that Daesh would carry out those crimes against us.”

Akhlas went on: ” I was freed on January 30, 2015. My mom, one sister and one of my brothers are free now but there are still my other siblings who are held captive without knowing anything about them.”

Akhlas is now living in Badinfortbirgh, Germany. She is studying and wants to be a lawyer in order to advocate for the rights of those Yazidi girls whom for, to this day, their fate remains uncertain.