Note: The ISIS survivor, Lamiya Ali Bashar has agreed to her being identified by her original name to AP.
Lamiya Aji Bashar tried to escape her tormentors four times. After each attempt failed, her Islamic State group captors beat her and abused her even more. On the fifth attempt, in March, the young Yazidi woman who was kept as a sex slave by IS militants in Iraq and Syria thought she had finally made it to freedom.
But as she and two other Yazidi girls escaping with her neared Kurdish front lines in northern Iraq, one of them stepped on a land mine. The explosion killed the other two, whom Bashar only knew as 20-year-old Katherine and 8-year-old Almas. The guide who was smuggling them out saved her and brought her to Kurdish forces, she said.
Bashar lost her right eye in the blast, her face was left covered in scars and her damaged left eye needs treatment to save what’s left of her sight.
But the defiant 18-year-old sees it as a victory over the men who abused her.
“The main thing is that I survived,” she told The Associated Press, sitting on a bed in her uncle Idris Bashar’s home in the northern Iraqi town of Baadre.
“I managed in the end, thanks to God, I managed to get away from those infidels,” she added.
Bashar’s whole family was abducted on August 15, 2014, from their home in the village of Kocho near the town of Sinjar, a Yazidi enclave in Iraq that fell to IS when the Sunni extremist group overran large swaths of the country’s north and west that summer.
She said IS militants separated and took them to different places. Bashar doesn’t know what happened to her parents, who are presumed dead. Her 9-year-old sister Mayada remains a captive of the IS group somewhere in the self-styled caliphate the extremists proclaimed on territory they control in Syria and Iraq.
The horror of the 19 months Bashar spent as a sex slave with IS extremists left her deeply traumatised, but she came through the ordeal determined to tell her story.
According to Kurdish local government figures, 2,554 Yazidi men and women have been rescued from IS group captivity with the help of paid smugglers. Over 3,000 are thought to remain in captivity, almost all of them women - and that’s despite the Islamic State group’s recent territorial losses to Kurdish and Iraqi troops, aided by US-led coalition airstrikes.
(With inputs from AP)
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