The Islamic State, otherwise known as ISIS, currently has the Yazidi people at their mercy. As many as 40,000 people, most of which are from Iraq’s Yazidi religious minority, are trapped atop Mount Sinjar in northern Iraq.
The U.S. has reponded to the crisis with limited air strikes against ISIS targets.
The mountain is cut off from food and water. Although the U.S. intervention changes the calculus, there’s still a danger that starvation or dehydration will ravage the Yazidis trapped on the mountaintop.
Some Yazidis who managed to flee the area have taken refuge in the city of Lalish — an important place of pilgrimage for members of the faith.
Lalish is an intense and deeply spiritual holy city. Here are pictures of one of the most important places for a religious group threatened with genocide.
This Yazidi cleric walks through the main temple in Lalish. The Yazidi faith dates back thousands of years, and the religious group is no stranger to persecution.
Here is the same Yazidi temple from the outside.
These Yazidi women wash their faces with holy water from a spring within the Lalish temple.
This woman kisses a monument in front of the Yazidi temple. During the Yazidi summer feast festival, 15,000 people typically make the pilgrimage to Lalish.
A Yazidi worshipper is blessed by a cleric during the fall festival of Eid al-Jamma.
Yazidi worshippers engaging in a prayer ceremony during Eid al-Jamma.
Here, Yazidis pay their respects within the Lalish temple. The Yazidis were victims of the worst terror attack of last decade’s Iraq War, when suicide bombings killed more than 400 Yazidis in 2007.
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