As ISIS terrorizes northern Iraq and Kurdistan, they have picked out one group in particular to attack: the Yazidis.
The Yazidis are a small Kurdish minority who belong to a religion that blends Sufism, Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, and Zoroastrianism.
The Islamic State sees Yazidis as devil-worshippers and have made it their mission to force them to convert or be killed.
After ISIS began to advance towards Yazidi towns in Iraq’s north, many fled their homes into the nearby mountains. As many as 70,000 Yazidis have been trapped on Mount Sinjar for the past week.
As ISIS has pushed closer to Yazidi positions on Mount Sinjar, the Yazidis have been forced to take their chances with a dangerous route and flee towards the Syrian border.
Over the weekend, Syrian Kurds successfully carved out an escape route for those trapped on Mount Sinjar to make it into Syria, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. It is estimated that around 20,000-30,000 have made it out so far.
Temperatures on the mountain and in the region are in the 90s. They have little water or food, which makes travelling difficult.
That has begun to change, as U.S., British, and Iraqi forces are dropping humanitarian supplies to trapped Yazidis. This image from U.S. Central Command shows Yazidis approaching humanitarian bundles after they have been dropped by U.S. forces.
The journey, which most have to do on foot, is particularly arduous for the many Yazidis who are women, children, elderly, or disabled.
Some have been able to find donkeys to ride across the border.
The Kurdish peshmerga have been overseeing the operation, but that hardly makes it a safe route. ISIS militants have been attacking the Kurds along the route.
There are some vehicles to carry Yazidis, but hardly enough for all those attempting to flee.
Many Yazidis who have made it across have settled at refugee camps in Derike, Syria.
For those who continue, the route leads to the Fishkhabur crossing, which brings them into Iraqi Kurdistan, according to The Guardian. Though under siege by ISIS, Kurdistan remains possibly the safest place in the area for the Yazidi right now.
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