SINJAR, IRAQ —
Kurdish forces backed by U.S. airstrikes liberated the city of Sinjar in Iraq from the Islamic State terrorist group earlier this month, and now are looking for help with reconstruction in the region. And the Yazidi population - a religious minority in Iraq's Kurdish region - is upset that nearly 3,000 Yazidi women and children kidnapped by the IS militants are still in captivity.
The liberation of Sinjar was great news for the city’s population. But now the people here want more from the Iraqi government and the international community.
Some of them told VOA that operations against the Islamic State should now be aimed at rescuing Yazidi women and children who were taken prisoner when the militants overran the city last year. That includes the Iraqi Kurdish fighters known as Peshmerga, who played a major role in the liberation.
We now wish for the return of our women and girls who are in the custody of IS. It is a matter of honor for us,” said Peshmerga commander Elyas Ido Mahi.
Sinjar sustained heavy destruction during both the Islamic State's original attack and the battle for its liberation. Now, one of its' citizens' major demands is reconstruction.
“We urge European countries, humanitarian organizations and the United Nations to help us rebuild our city,” Peshmerga commander Mirza Haji Sharro said.
Local military commanders told VOA that despite taking control of their city back from IS, they are mindful there still is the threat of a counterattack.
"Until recently, our mission was to liberate the city. Now our focus is on to keep the city out of IS control if it attacks us again," said Brig. Gen. Simeh Mulla Mohammed, a Peshmerga commander.
The Peshmerga say they are well aware their job did not end with Sinjar's liberation.