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Women held captive by Islamic State: ‘If you can’t save us, please bomb us. We can’t bear to live.’


The calls come to Khaleel’s phone every day, dozens every week: Women and girls, held captive by the Islamic State, beg us to rescue them.

Like us, they are Yazidis. And in the wickedest of ironies, they are survivors of genocide, kept alive by the Islamic State to be raped and subjected to sexual slavery. They have heard about our rescue network and reach us on cellphones that they have managed to hide.

We save as many victims as we can and provide care to help rehabilitate them. Thus far, however, we’ve been able to help only a small number of the 3,700 who are enslaved. We believe most are in Mosul, which is Iraq’s second-largest city, the Islamic State’s most important stronghold after Raqqa in Syria and the largest urban center under the Islamic State’s control. So intense is the suffering of these women and girls that they tell us that they want the United States and other countries to attack Mosul, even if the bombs pose a threat to their lives.

The bombs have already started to fall in Mosul. A coalition of troops led by the Iraqi army – and including Kurdish peshmerga, Turkish and U.S. forces – recently launched its initial assault on the city in what is expected to be a major battle that lasts several weeks. But whether it leads to the liberation of Yazidi women and girls or to further suffering may depend on the current and future actions of the forces fighting the Islamic State – and the governments to which they belong. – READ MORE

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