After months of Islamic militants carving out their own region in Iraq, the plight of the Yazidi sect in northern Iraq pushed the Obama administration to launch airstrikes against the Islamic State.

The Yazidis were forced to flee their region after militants took to abducting and killing members of the religious minority. About 10,000 to 40,000 are stranded on Mount Sinjar relying on a small supply of food and water.

People who fled from the violence in Mosul gathered inside the Khazer refugee camp on the outskirts of the Kurdish city of Irbil.


Displaced families arrive at Dohuk province.

(Ari Jala/Reuters)


Obama called the treatment of the Yazidis a massacre, and said, “We can act carefully and responsibly to prevent a potential act of genocide.”

Displaced people from the minority Yazidi sect, fleeing the violence in the Iraqi town of Sinjar west of Mosul, take refuge in Dohuk province. (Ari Jala/Reuters)


Yazidis take refuge in Dohuk. (Ari Jala/Reuters)

The Washington Post's Loveday Morris talked to some people who were stranded on the mountain. One person described it as this: “I'm standing here next to an old lady and a child lying on the ground. They are not dead, but we fear they are dying.”

(Ari Jala/Reuters)

At least 17 children have died so far.

(Safin Hamed/AFP/Getty Images)

An Iraqi Yazidi family taking shelter in a school in Dohuk.

(Safin Hamed/AFP/Getty Images)

In 2006, Sinjar was seen as a beacon of hope for the Yazidis. Pictured is a temple, a holy site for the Yazidis in Sinjar.

Yazidi men enter a shrine at the top of Mount Sinjar. (Jacob Silberberg/AP)

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