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Woman freed from ISIS captivity returns for revenge

CBS News logo CBS News 7/20/2017 Haley Joelle Ott

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After being held prisoner by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) for nearly three years, Heiza Shankal is finally free -- and she has returned to her hometown to fight the extremists and "take revenge." In the summer of 2014, as ISIS swept across a vast swathe of Iraq and Syria, a long-persecuted religious minority group to which Heiza belongs, the Yazidis, fled the militants' advance.

yazidi.jpg © Provided by CBS Interactive Inc. yazidi.jpg Many were killed or abducted by the militants near the Syrian-Iraqi border, but approximately 50,000 became trapped in the rugged Sinjar mountains. "When the massacre took place in Shankal (the Kurdish name for Sinjar) and ISIS kidnapped children and women, I was one of those who was taken away," Heiza says.

The international community mobilized to come to the stranded Yazidis' rescue. Food and water were airdropped onto the mountains, and evacuations eventually took place.

But a different horror awaited the women and girls who were kidnapped by ISIS. According to reports, ISIS set up markets in several areas where non-Muslim women, including Yazidis, were bought and sold as sexual slaves.

"I was sold and bought ... in Raqqa, and I was finally liberated," Heiza says. When she finally regained her freedom, "I arrived to the hands of the comrades and they brought me to Shankal." Back in her hometown, Heiza was ready to fight the group that had put her through so much pain, so she joined a women's resistance unit to battle ISIS. "I was surprised to see a military force for protecting Shankal, so I decided to join the unit and take revenge," she says.    

Yazidi female fighter Asema Dahir (L), 21, holds a weapon as she rides a pickup truck during a deployment near the frontline of the fight against Islamic State of Iraq and Syria militants in Nawaran near Mosul, Iraq, April 20, 2016. When Islamic State swept into the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar in 2014, a few young Yazidi women took up arms against the militants attacking women and girls from their community. The killing and enslaving of thousands from Iraq's minority Yazidi community focused international attention on the group's violent campaign to impose its radical ideology and prompted Washington to launch an air offensive. It also prompted the formation of this unusual 30-woman unit made up of Yazidis as well as Kurds from Iraq and neighbouring Syria. For them, only one thing matters: revenge for the women raped, beaten and executed by the jihadist militants. REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah SEARCH "WOMEN NAWARAN" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY: 2016-05-04t130342z1215088148s1betccmvmaartrmadp3mideast-crisis-iraq-female-fighters.jpg © REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah 2016-05-04t130342z1215088148s1betccmvmaartrmadp3mideast-crisis-iraq-female-fighters.jpg
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