Iraq – Islamic State militants are holding about 3,500 people as slaves in Iraq. Most of them are women and children, according to a report released Tuesday by the United Nations Assistance for Iraq and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

The report was based on testimony that came directly either from survivors or witnesses of rights abuses, as well as from internationally displaced victims.

According to a report by the UN, ISIS currently holds at least 3,500 people as slaves in Iraq, including women and children. Credit: Independent UK

“The so-called ‘Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’ continues to commit systematic and widespread violence and abuses of international human rights law and humanitarian law. These acts may, in some instances, amount to war crimes, crimes against humanity, and possibly genocide,” the report states.

According to the document, ISIS controls large parts of Syria as well, and the United Nations affirmed that there have been crimes against humanity and potential genocide, especially among religious minorities whose ideologies strongly oppose to the one ISIS pretends to spread, being the Yazidis the most affected non-Muslim community. In fact, the extremists consider the Yazidis as “devil worshippers.” ISIS seeks to suppress, permanently expel or destroy other ethnic and religious groups.

The terror group uses civilians as shields. Children are forced to take part in the armed conflict and give blood, as reported by Francesco Motta, head of the U.N. Human Rights Office in Iraq. In a news release by telephone from Baghdad, he said militants target civilian infrastructure, which can amount not only to war crimes, but also to crimes against humanity.

Motta added that the U.N. has a lot of information on the recruitment of children, who often are as young as nine. They are trained by ISIS to participate in suicide operations and at least 900 children have been abducted in Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city. The authors also documented verified reports about child soldiers who had been killed after they fled fighting on the front lines in Anbar.

Between January 2014 and October 2015, ISIS killed more than 18,802 civilians and left an estimated of 36,245 injured, the report states. The extremists employ the cruelest methods of killing, such as bulldozing, beheading, burning people alive and throwing them off buildings.

The U.N. report documented several incidents of women enslavement in Iraq. In May last year, a 24-year-old woman from the Yazidi community was killed as she attempted to escape from ISIS captivity in Nineveh province. Militants left her body on the side of the road.

Just a month later, 42 Yazidi women were abducted from the same province and taken to ISIS-held Deir Ezzor in Syria, the report said. Some of them were sold to extremists there for $500 to $2,000. And in August, 19 women in Mosul were killed by ISIS after they refused to have sex with militants.

The report’s authors also informed about a recitation contest run by the terror group in Quran, which advertised female sex slaves as prizes for every winner.

Source: U.N. Report