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Islamic State Militants Released 200 Yazidis

Islamic State (IS) militants have released more than 200 Yazidis in northern Iraq. The freed captives were reported to be in poor health, and showed signs of abuse and neglect.

Islamist extremists gave no reason for the mass release of 200 Yazidis on Wednesday after holding them for eight months.

One of the released Yazidis said “We are very happy now”.

On the hand, The United Nations said last month IS militants may have committed genocide against the minority.

Tens of thousands of Yazidis fled when extremists captured Sinjar, near the Syrian border, last August.

However, hundreds were taken captive by the group with some Yazidi women forced into slavery, according to international rights groups and Iraqi officials.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed news of the latest release, his spokesperson said.

“Obviously, any release of innocent civilians is to be welcomed” said the spokesperson.

The move came after Iraqi ground forces, backed by US-led airstrikes, and retook the city of Tikrit.

In January, IS released around 200 Yazidi hostages also under seemingly mysterious circumstances. Kurdish military officials said they believed the extremists let them go as they were “too much of a burden.”

The IS holds around a third of Iraq and neighboring Syria as part of its self-declared caliphate or Islamic republic.

The Sunni militant organization considers Yazidis and Shiite Muslims to be apostates deserving of death and has demanded Christians either convert to Islam or pay a special tax.

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