Islamic State releases 200 Yazidis
* Almost all the freed prisoners have signs of abuse and are in poor health *It seems they were released because they were too much of a burden *They are now being held by Kurdish authorities for questioning
The Islamic State group has released about 200 Yazidis after five months of captivity, mostly elderly prisoners who may have been slowing the extremists down.
General Shirko Fatih, commander of Kurdish forces in Kirkuk, said almost all of the freed prisoners are in poor health and bore signs of abuse and neglect. Three young children are among them.
The militants transported the captives from the northern town of Tal Afar, where they were being held for the past five months after the militants raided their towns last summer. They dropped them off at the Khazer Bridge, near the Kurdish regional capital of Erbil.
Gen Fatih said the released are now being held by Kurdish authorities for questioning.
He said it appears the militants released the prisoners because they were too much of a burden.
'It probably became too expensive to feed them and care for them,' he said.
Tens of thousands of Yazidis fled in August when the Islamic State group captured the northern town of Sinjar, near the Syrian border. But hun- dreds were taken captive by the group, particularly the women, some of whom have been sold as slaves.
Hersh Hussein, a representative from the Erbil Governor's office who was in Alton Kupri, said the condition of the released captives was 'very bad, especially the psychological condition.'
'We provide them with the first aid and the most urgent medical treatment,' he said.
Maha Faris Qassem, 35, was released with her two young sons, both of whom were covered from head to toe in insect bites which appeared to be infected.
She said the conditions of their captivity were so dire that infection was inevitable.
About 50,000 Yazidis - half of them children according to United Nations figures - fled to the mountains outside Sinjar dur- ing the onslaught. Some still remain there.
The Sunni militants of the Islamic State group view Yazidis and Shiite Muslims as non-believers. They have demanded the Yazidis conversion to Islam or face death in many cases.
" I don't know the details of why they released us," Gawre Semo, 69, told The Associated Press." They are very bad people. They took our children and they took the women. They did bad things with us. We've been humiliated by them."