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Iraqi boy risks all to rescue Yazidi woman from Islamic State

Teenage Diya Hamad told Al-Monitor the heroic tale of how he rescued his Yazidi friend from abuse by the Islamic State, following her into danger even as his own family reached safety.
Boys walk at al-Hol displacement camp in Hasaka governorate, Syria March 8, 2019. REUTERS/Issam Abdallah - RC1FE9B01970

AL-HOL, Syria — With his slender frame and gentle smile, Diya Hamad seems an unlikely self-appointed rescuer of Yazidis from the barbarous Islamic State (IS). But that is precisely what the 16-year-old from the Iraqi city of Samarra is. “He is a hero,” declared Nabil Hassan, the manager of the al-Hol camp in northeastern Syria where tens of thousands of Iraqis fleeing IS have been sheltering ever since the jihadis killed and plundered their way through Iraq in 2014.

Today, al-Hol is home to many more thousands of refugees, the wives and children of IS fighters who made their last unsuccessful stand in the small village of Baghouz. Among them remain an unknown number of Yazidi women they enslaved and abused until they were finally vanquished by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) on March 22.

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