“I came because I got the chance to protect my people, because this isn’t the first time there’s been a Yazidi genocide,” says 16-year-old female YBŞ fighter Ari. She says the Yazidis count 74 times others have tried to wipe them out. “I have found a chance to protect us and prevent a next time.”
Dressed in khaki fatigues and a woodland camouflage vest that holds her AK-47 magazines, Ari is relaxing beside half a dozen of her comrades in a house turned barracks on the north slope of Mount Sinjar. Similarly dressed and sipping tea, many are also still in their teens or early 20s.
They all say the Erbil-based Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and its troops known as Peshmerga, closely allied with the United States, abandoned the Yazidis when ISIS attacked their heartland surrounding this mountain in northwestern Iraq.
“We’re going to stay in the YBŞ because the Iraqi army already left us and the Peshmerga ran away,” Ari says defiantly. “When our enemies came no one took care of us. The next time they come, we’ll be the protection force for the Yazidis.”