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article imageIslamic State marauders release 200 captives

By Nathan Salant     Jan 19, 2015 in World
Irbil - Scores of Yazidis being held captive by Islamic State were released Saturday in the Iraqi city of Irbil, Kurdish military officials reported.
Most of the 200 freed prisoners are elderly and in poor health, but the move marked the first release of captives by the brutal group, which has pledged to set up its own country ruled by Islamic law on territory captured from Iraq and Syria.
The former captives were getting medical care and being questioned Sunday by Kurdish forces in Alton Kupri, according to the Associated Press.
The Islamic State group had previously killed the people it captured, often posting videos of the killings on the Internet.
"It probably became too expensive to feed them and care for them," said Gen. Shirko Fatih, commander of Kurdish forces in Kirkuk in northern Iraq.
The captives were apparently among hundreds of Yazidis captured in August when Islamic State overran Sinjar, an Iraqi town near the Syrian border, forcing tens of thousands to flee.
International rights group and Iraqi officials told the AP that many captured Yazidi women were forced into slavery.
Islamic State's capture of Sinjar prompted the United States and other western nations to drop provide food and medical supplies to the fleeing Yazidis and led to the beginning of air strikes to try to destroy the radical group.
More than 1,000 Western-sponsored bombing attacks have occurred so far, the AP said.
The surprise release of the captives began Saturday in Tal Afar, when militants transported the mostly elderly prisoners to the Khazer Bridge near Irbil, according to Hersh Hussein of the Irbil governor's office, the AP said..
"Their situation is very bad, especially the psychological condition," he said.
"We provide first aid and the most important medical treatment," he said.
Maha Faris Qassem, 35, told the AP that she and her two young sons, who were covered in bug bites, had been held in deplorable conditions.
"They are very bad people," said another released captive, Gawre Semo.
"They took our children and they took the women -- they did bad things with us," he said.
The Sunni militants consider Yazidis and Shiites to be infidels and have killed thousands as they captured large portions of Iraq and Syria, and also have been forcing Christians to convert to Islam or pay a special tax, the AP said.
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