Twelve-year-old Imad Tammo was captured by Islamic State along with his family in the summer of 2014 when the militants overran the Sinjar area in northern Iraq, purging its Yazidi population.
Thousands of Yazidi women were enslaved by the militants, who killed hundreds of adult men and took boys, including Imad, away for military and ideological training. The UN has said it constitutes genocide.
“I want to go to my mother in Canada. I haven’t seen her in three years,” said Imad, who was wounded in June when a mortar landed near him in Mosul’s Old City.
The militant who was holding Imad took him to a hospital, where he was operated on, Tammo said.
As the battle for Mosul drew to an end earlier this month, Imad’s uncle received a call, saying that his nephew had been found alive by Iraqi forces.
The uncle, who is now caring for him, said he and other relatives had previously contacted smugglers, seeking to buy Imad back, but to no avail.
Asked how the militants had treated him, Imad said: “Some of them were good and some of them were bad.” His elder brother and father are still missing.
The uncle, Barzan Tammo, said the boy’s mother had learned from photographs circulated on social media that her son had been rescued and called him to check if it was true.
“I told her: ‘I am standing next to him, you can talk to him’,” Tammo said. “She spoke to him, and burst into tears. I told her: ‘don’t cry, he is free and he is fine. He will soon be with you again.”