Iraq: Yazidis to accept survivors of IS rape, not children

FILE - In this Aug. 15, 2018 file, photo, baby girls stand up in their cribs at Salhiya Orphanage, which now hosts foreign and Iraqi children of Islamic State militants, in Baghdad, Iraq. The spiritual council for Iraq's Yazidi community said Sunday, April 28, 2019, that it will not embrace the children of women raped by Islamic State group men, just days after it said it would accept "all survivors" of the extremist group's attempted annihilation of the minority community. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo, File)

IRBIL, Iraq — The spiritual council for Iraq's Yazidi community said Sunday that it will not embrace the children of women and girls raped by Islamic State group men, just days after a statement saying it would accept "all survivors."

IS militants stormed the Yazidi heartland in northwest Iraq in 2014, massacring men and forcing women and children into slavery. The group attempted to annihilate the minority community, which it views as heretics.

Efforts to locate Yazidis abducted by the militants have been fettered in part by the insular community's reluctance to accept children of rape.

Some 3,000 Yazidis remain missing, weeks after U.S.-backed Kurdish forces in Syria defeated the last fragments of the IS group's self-styled "caliphate." Many of the surviving Yazidis are believed to be sheltering in the camps for civilians who escaped IS in the final months of the fighting.

Yazidi official Ali Khedhir Ilyas said Sunday the Supreme Spiritual Council in Iraq encouraged Yazidi women to return with their children, no matter their parentage, but added "we cannot force the families to accept" those born of rape.

Some women returning from Syria have given up their children for adoption because their families in Iraq would not accept them. Others have refused to return to the Yazidi community.

In a statement Saturday, the spiritual council said the media had "distorted" the meaning of an earlier statement concerning the Yazidi women and children that were forced into slavery in 2014.

It said the earlier edict to accept women survivors and their children into the community "absolutely did not mean the children who were born as a result of rape." Instead, it was concerned with the children born to two Yazidi parents and abducted at the time of the IS attack, the spiritual council said.

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