BAGHDAD — Thousands of desperate Iraqi Yazidis who have been trapped by Islamist extremists on a parched mountaintop for almost a week trekked Friday into Syrian territory, seeking refuge in another war-ravaged country.
Some managed to collect water and food that had been dropped overnight by U.S. planes before heading northwest on a 12-mile walk across mountains and desert to the Syrian border. There, Syrian Kurdish forces waited to transport them to refugee camps or to safe crossings back into the Kurdish region of Iraq.
Mount Sinjar had become a prison for as many as 40,000 civilians who fled to its barren peaks to escape Islamic State fighters who seized the surrounding area last weekend. The Yazidis’ plight — and warnings that children and the elderly were dying — caused international outrage and prompted Washington to conduct humanitarian airdrops for the stranded Yazidis and airstrikes against the militants, to prevent what President Obama described as an attempted genocide.
The followers of the ancient Yazidi religion are particularly vulnerable to the Islamic State extremists, who consider the sect’s members apostates and have vowed to exterminate them.
Kurdish forces from Iraq, Syria and Turkey organized the evacuations and were positioned along the escape route to protect refugees from the extremists. The organizers said Friday that around 20,000 people had been rescued from the area but most from hideouts in the vicinity of Mount Sinjar, rather than on the mountain.
More: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/desperate-iraqi-yazidis-flee-into-syria-after-kurdish-forces-secure-escape-route/2014/08/08/817a17ad-233a-4ee9-935e-820eb53594e4_story.htmlNow you know where the fighting Kurds are. Risking the loss of Irbil to rescue complete strangers.