21 former Islamic State (ISIS) captives returned home to Iraq from Syria over the weekend. Most of these captives are children, young boys who were held by ISIS during the past five years and whom experts believe were likely forcibly trained in ISIS military camps. The parents of many of these children remain missing.
This group of captives all belong to the Yazidis, an ethnic religious group. ISIS targeted both Christians and Yazidis for genocide, although Yazidis were far more heavily targeted for enslavement and captivity. Still, some Christians remain disappeared by ISIS. The effect of ISIS on the children of both groups is profound. Many suffer deep psychological trauma and were denied the opportunity of childhood. With an entire generation impacted by genocide, many Christian and Yazidi leaders are concerned about the future.
The fighting in Syria has opened a deeper look into the dark workings of ISIS, as the militants struggle to remain territorial control. The brutality of ISIS across both Iraq and Syria has left behind deep scars, and has decimated religious minorities who once lived in these countries.