Over 1,000 Iraqi women captured by militants from the Islamic State (IS) may be being coerced into marrying the radical fighters, UK-based The Independent reported on Sunday.
The captured women, who are the Yazidi ethnic group, have been divided into groups of younger and older women, according to witnesses, and are not being threatened to convert.
“They beg us…they promise us everything,” one of the women quoted by the newspaper said. “They say they will give us houses and we will lead happy lives.”
The women’s stories are from interviews with Yazidi refugees, activists and witnesses, with their identities withheld to protect them, the newspaper reported.
Rumors circulating of the women being sexually enslaved and raped are largely untrue, the daily reported. When one guard was caught trying to grope a women in a location where the women were detained, his finger was cut off.
The women “are considered apostate, and it is haram [forbidden] for Muslims to marry a non-Muslim”, said Hoshyar Zebari, a senior Kurdish leader who until recently served as Iraq’s Foreign Minister. He puts the number of women detained at more than 1,000.
“Many fighters came from foreign places without wives, so they want the women to convert so they can become brides of the jihadis,” he said.
Meanwhile, Kurdish forces pushed out ISIS militants from their territory and recaptured Iraq's biggest dam in Mosul with the support of U.S. air strikes near the facility.
Iraqi officials hailed what they said was a strategic victory in regaining control of the dam, and announced that the next objective would be to win back Mosul itself, the largest city in northern Iraq and an ISIS stronghold in the country.