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Torture and executions: Freed Hawija hostages recount ISIS captivity

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Posted at 7:35 AM, Oct 27, 2015
and last updated 2015-10-27 07:35:26-04

(CNN) — Their ISIS captors whipped their feet until they couldn’t walk, smashed their teeth, suffocated them with plastic bags and jolted them again and again with electric shocks.

Like many of their fellow prisoners, they expected sooner or later to be taken outside and shot.

But these Iraqi men were saved from their brutal captivity by a daring raid by U.S., Kurdish and Iraqi forces last week.

The mission freed around 70 hostages in danger of imminent execution, according to U.S. officials. But it cost the life of the first American soldier to be killed in Iraq since 2011.

In a video released by the Kurdistan Regional Government, some of the hostages recount their harrowing experience at the ISIS-controlled prison in the northern Iraqi district of Hawija and express gratitude to their rescuers.

Here are some of their stories in their own words:

Mohammed Hassan Abdullah

“They tortured us in various ways, including electric shocks and plastic bags until loss of consciousness. Then more electric shocks were used,” says Abdullah, who was once part of the police force in Hawija. Around two to four hostages were executed every day, he remembers.

Akram Hussen Mohammed Zahir

The torture was relentless, says Zahir, with the “same questions asked every day and beatings repeated.” At one point, he recalls, the captors held a gun to his head and told him to recite a profession of Islamic faith of face execution on the spot.

Hussen Ali Alhemdani

The brother of a local council member, Alhemdani says his torture involved ISIS members whipping his feet for hours at night. “I could not walk for 20 days,” he recounts. His family’s possessions were seized and his brothers all fled.

Ahmed Abd Al Jburi

Struggling to feed his family, Al Jburi recalls ISIS militants asking him to swear allegiance to their cause in return for money and fuel. He says he found such a step hard to stomach: “If I go and kill fellow Muslim brothers — don’t they have family of their own?” Now, he says he and others are willing to fight for the Kurdistan government that rescued them. “I will sacrifice myself,” he pledges as other hostages in the audience weep.