Former Yazidi captives of Islamic State arrive in Iraq

March 1, 2019 GMT

ERBIL, Iraq (AP) — A Yazidi official says 21 freed women and children have returned to Iraq after five years of captivity in the hands of the Islamic State group.

Hussam Koro, the head of the Yazidi Women Rescue Office, said the group of 3 Yazidi women and 18 children crossed into Iraq from Syria on Thursday. They were received at the Iraqi border town of Sinuni.

About 3,000 Yazidis are still missing after IS militants stormed their communities in the Sinjar region in northwest Iraq in 2014, and enslaved, raped and killed thousands of worshippers of the esoteric faith.

In Syria, a two-weeks-long pause to the U.S.-backed military campaign against IS raised hopes that the captives could escape to safety, but authorities said only a handful of Yazidis were identified among the refugees.