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Soft Beds… Hard Battles

It had taken about five days to have a tattoo on her right hand… but the pain associated with that lingered! Faryal, the young Yazidi lady, recently said that she had the mental strength to overcome the pain of having a tattoo in her husband Hashim‘s name on her hand… However, Faryal, never before, had an idea on how difficult it would be to walk on a rough rocky terrain for around 53 hours at a stretch
It was in August 2014… The Islamic State (ISIS) terror outfit had started taking control of different parts of Iraq and Syria, hoisting its flags as a symbol of the Reign of Terror. Faryal, along with her husband and son, used to reside in a village near the Iraqi city of Tel Banāt. Ten members of the family – including the then 20-year-old Faryal, her husband and son – made an attempt to leave the village in a car when the ISIS was about to take control of their village. However, they failed in their attempt… as the terrorists killed Faryal’s relatives and captured the girl and her son… And later, they made a sex slave of her! “We couldn’t run fast enough. We made it for only a few miles before militants blocked our path. Yazidi men and boys, who had reached puberty, were separated from the women and other children, and were shot dead at roadsides. The women were transported to temporary holding sites and then sold to the ISIS fighters at slave markets,” she recalled.

The ISIS conquered the Kurdish towns of Sinjar and Zumar in August 2014, forcing thousands of civilians to flee their homes. Pictured are a group of Yazidi Kurds who have fled.

Faryal had tried to escape five times in the last four years, but, all those attempts were unsuccessful ones. Finally, she got a chance in 2019, when the US-led Kurdish forces destroyed a number of ISIS bases in Iraq. The Kurdish forces rescued Faryal, while carrying out an anti-terror operation in Amuda, a town in al Hasakah Governorate in north-eastern Syria close to the border with Turkey in the third week of February. Now, the Kurdish forces are trying hard to send her back home!
This lady, Yazidi by faith, along with her five-year-old son Hoshyar, recently attended a media conference organised by the Kurdish soldiers. During the conference, Faryal shared her traumatic experience with the press, saying that the terrorists not only tortured her, but also her little son. According to her, the terrorists had burned Hoshyar’s hand many a times, and did not allow him to visit the toilet. As the five-year-old boy, who is still not able to articulate his speech in a proper fashion, sat beside his mother during the press conference, his eyes moving slowly from side to side, as if he was trying to scan the room for threats.

The US launched its first airstrikes against ISIS in Syria on 23 September, 2014.

Faryal revealed that she had six different owners during her captivity, at times being passed on when a ‘fighter’ wanted a new sexual partner, or simply to settle a debt. “They were monsters who treated us like animals,” she stressed. Faryal claimed that she had to tolerate all these only because of her son, as the terrorists might have killed Hoshyar. She recalled that an Iraqi ISIS fighter Abu Kattab was her worst abuser, stressing on her point with that Kattab had beaten Hoshyar so badly that there were prints of his hand on the little boy’s face. “He was so small, but for some reason the fighters hated him. I could never explain to him why,” she insisted.
The ISIS terrorists took shelter in Baghouz (Iraq) after the Kurd forces destroyed their hideouts in Syria in January 2019. Faryal informed the world that the terrorists had decided to leave their hideouts only after food and medical supplies ran low… “Sometimes, I went days without good, spending my money instead on small sandwiches for Hoshyar,” stressed Faryal.

Women & children flee the Baghouz area of eastern Syria, the ISIS’ last stronghold, on February 12, 2019.

Under pressure, the terrorists styled themselves as the Yazidis’ guardians and surrendered to the forces surrounding the last ISIS stronghold. One day (at 2:30 pm, local time), they left their tents in Baghouz. Then, an Uzbek fighter and his family pushed Faryal out in front of them as they started walking down the dusty path. They walked for more than two days (or 53 hours) in the cold, following the only path out of what had once been the Caliphate. The Iraqi girl said: “We were pushed out onto the street, still bleeding. There were no drugs left, and we saw people in the road being left for dead.” However, she managed to survive, and save her son, as well. On that day, Faryal had told her son that they would return to his grandparents in Iraq after four years.
As for the Yazidi survivor, it had been a journey from the darkness to light! She continued: “At 8 pm on the second day, we heard shouting… beams from flashlights bounced off the sky. It was the US-backed soldiers. The ISIS fighters raised their hands above their heads and cried out for mercy. They claimed that they were helping a Yazidi escape and had kept her safe. However, the US forces detained them. I and Hoshyar carried on walking.

The 53-hour march

It took three days for Faryal and her son to finally reach a safe haven. Still, the mother-son duo feared that the terrorists would come back for them. “As long as I’m alive, I’ll be scared of them. My spirit might be strong, but my mind will never rest,” added Faryal.
At the same time, Faryal claimed that she would never forget how to resist. According to the young Iraqi mother, the tattoo of her husband’s name, inked in kohl and water on the back of her right hand, will help her survive with the memory of her husband. Faryal will definitely survive because those longest 53 hours have taught her how to reach the destination – Freedom!

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