Living a peaceful life in Germany, Qassim Shesho and his son Yassir Qassim Khalaf left their home to travel to northern Iraq in a quest to defend their family, land and religion from ISIS.
According to CNN, Shesho’s home village, Sheref ad-Din, is located only 2 miles from the ISIS militant group. It houses one of the holiest shrines for the Yazidis.
Yazidis are one of the oldest religious communities in the world, with a population estimated at only 700,000. They have suffered persecution through the ages. Many Muslims consider them devil worshipers.
“ISIS wants to exterminate us and they want to establish an Islamic caliphate, but Islam is not liking what they are doing to us, “Shesho said. The commander of 2,000 Yazidi fighters, he said “I came back because my people are here. ISIS are terrorists. I came to defend my land, my family and my religion.”
Shesho’s 26 year-old son, Khalaf is with him. They arrived a couple months ago, when ISIS’s initial attack on Yazidis lefts thousands stranded without food, water or medical care. U.S. airstrikes assisted in clearing a path for many of them to escape into Syria and the Iraqi Kurdish territory.
But even with the escape of thousands, several others remained and are now surrounded by the militant’s group.
“You can’t just stay in Germany, live in luxury and leave your family and your people alone while you are watching it all on TV, thinking, ‘It’ll work itself out,’” Khalaf said in German.
Horrific reports have surfaced of Yazidi women being enslaved, raped and sold off by ISIS while men and boys have been executed. The United Nations has established that the actions of ISIS “may amount to an attempt to commit genocide.”
“I decided to defend Sinjar, not to fight. They decided to fight,” Shesho said of the terrorist group. “We defend our land and our holy places. I have lived in Germany for 24 years and have always abhorred killing and fighting.”
Shesho’s troops receive weapons and humanitarian aid from the Kurdish regional government. U.S. airstrikes on ISIS also have helped, but Shesho said it’s not enough.
“ISIS wants to ruin the whole world. We want more American airstrikes between Sinjar and Dahouk so we can go back to our lands and live in peace.”
“I actually wanted to be here from the beginning because I just couldn’t bear to witness the suffering of the Yazidis and how our honor is tainted, how our families and wives are being captured,” Yassir said.
“To go from luxury to war is not pleasant, but you gotta do what you gotta do,” he said.