Inside Sinjar: ‘It is liberated, but how can we come back?’

Mike Giglio reports: The young soldier paused to take a somber selfie on the battered street. Kurdish forces had just cleared ISIS from the town of Sinjar, but unlike some of his comrades who sent bursts of gunfire into the air, 20-year-old Azhar Khalaf Shamo wasn’t celebrating. He was from this town, and he knew this street — he stood in front of what had been a family-run store. But now the entire block, like seemingly every block in Sinjar, was reduced to rubble and metal scraps. “It’s totally destroyed,” he said. “No place looks like before. Yes, it is liberated. But how can we come back?”

Sinjar became famous as the site of ISIS’s worst atrocities — after overrunning the region in August 2014, the group massacred thousands of members of the Yazidi religious sect that calls it home. President Obama cited the need to protect them when announcing the start of U.S. airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq.

Yet as ethnic Kurdish forces, backed by the strikes, rolled triumphantly back into the city on Friday, Shamo seemed to be wondering what was left to save. He had lost seven siblings to ISIS’s rampage; more than 2,500 Yazidis are still believed to remain in control of ISIS as slaves. [Continue reading…]

The Guardian reports: The end of Isis rule came surprisingly easily. Fighter jets that had steadily picked off targets in the city over the past year intensified their attacks from Wednesday night. By Friday there was little left in the city to hit. Nearly every home had been damaged, roads had been pockmarked with craters, and power lines criss-crossed rubble like fallen spider webs.

Another Iraqi policeman, Corporal Ismael, also a Yazidi, picked his way through the litter of the war as he outlined how he and his family, who were in a refugee camp near Duhok, would soon try their luck on the migrant route across the Mediterranean. “I have saved all the money and soon I can get them out,” he said. “It is better to die in the ocean near Turkey than to come back to this.” [Continue reading…]

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