Yazidis escaping Mt. Sinjar still face many terrors

August 13, 2014

Displaced people from the minority Yazidi sect make their way on the outskirts of Mount Sinjar in northern Iraq. (Rodi Said/Reuters)

Many Yazidis trapped on Mount Sinjar in northern Iraq with dwindling resources after the Islamic State conquered their cities have now escaped.

The Islamic State has killed and abducted many members of the minority community, which follows a faith that goes back more than 4,000 years. It forced many to flee and left them with almost no food or water. U.S. forces intervened and launched airstrikes against the Islamist militants, which helped thousands of Yazidis leave the mountain.

The Post's Liz Sly witnessed the journey many Yazidis made:

Hungry, thirsty and tired, they limped across a narrow bridge spanning the Tigris on the Iraqi-Syrian border hauling their few belongings, some of them barefoot, others in sleeping clothes because they ran for their lives at night.

Military helicopters arrived to take as many Yazidis away from the region as they could.

Unfortunately, some civilians had to be turned away as one of the helicopters couldn't take off because of the load. Watch Channel 4's report from Mount Sinjar:

CNN helicopters rescued some of the trapped Yazidis.

Even when they were able to leave the mountain, conditions were dire.


A young boy carries his brother to shelter after crossing from Syria back into Iraq. (Sebastian Meyer for the Washington Post)

Yazidi men waited for bottles of fruit juice after crossing the border back into Iraq. (Sebastian Meyer for the Washington Post)

Sinjar, in 2006:


This 2006 image taken in Sinjar is a stark reminder of how things have changed for the Yazidis. (Josh White/The Washington Post)

White recounted his experience in Sinjar for WorldViews:

Sinjar was much like other small cities in that remote part of Iraq: dusty, dingy, depressing. But the people there were full of hope, believing that they had emerged from a dark time and were headed toward something better.

Swati Sharma is a digital editor for World and National Security and previously worked at the Boston Globe.
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