Home / World

Iraq's Yazidis haunted by horrors they escaped on Mount Sinjar

By Reuters in Dohuk, Iraq | China Daily | Updated: 2014-08-13 07:42

Exhausted and terrorized, many of the Yazidis of northern Iraq who straggled into the Kurdish town of Dohuk after escaping the Islamic State deathtrap of Mount Sinjar recalled the agony of leaving relatives exposed on the mountain.

Dakheel, 64, a shepherd who fled with family members into the rocky gullies above the sheep-grazing areas around Sinjar, left his 95-year-old mother when he set off on a grueling, risky walk to safety.

"I left my mother behind on the mountain in a cave. She said 'I want to stay here. Go, save yourselves'," Dakheel said.

He and several thousand others escaped in the last few days by climbing down the west side of the mountain, traversing the dry plain to the Syrian border and traveling to Iraq's Kurdish region that has been untouched by Islamic State gunmen.

The Yazidis were just one of the communities fleeing their villages from advancing Islamic State fighters who drove looted armored vehicles and fired machine guns and raised their black flag over towns across northwest Iraq in recent weeks.

For many who fled to the craggy gullies of Mount Sinjar, helped by lightly armed Kurdish Peshmerga warriors and some Yazidi guards, US and Iraqi military airdrops of food and drinking water in the last five days came too late.

Survivors reaching Dohuk said on Monday that for the people of Sinjar, the nightmare began when Islamic State forces shelled the town last week, sending thousands of people fleeing up the road to the mountain.

It was no safe refuge.

Iraq's Yazidis haunted by horrors they escaped on Mount Sinjar

"When we went up the mountain, snipers were firing at us. The girls were throwing themselves off the top of the mountain," said Khalaf Hajji, who worked at a school.

"We have lost all our faith in Iraq. They have hundreds of our women."

Dying of hunger

There was only the scarce food and water that people could carry with them, and no shade from the scorching sun.

"On the mountain, ... more than 30 people died of hunger. We went back 100 years in time on that mountain," said Mural, a policeman. He recalled how one man became so desperate he killed his five sisters and himself to escape the agony.

The United States said it mounted a series of air attacks on Islamic State positions on Monday, with targets including vehicles near Mount Sinjar. Earlier, planes hit artillery that had been shelling the mountain.

In Washington and at the United Nations, officials said they are working on ways to establish a safe corridor to bring all the remaining people off the mountain, but there was no sign this would be created soon.

"We are, right now, gripped by the immediacy of the crisis. And our focus right now is to provide immediate relief to those that are suffering," Lieutenant General William Manville, a senior Pentagon official, said on Monday.

Asked if there would be a safe passage soon, he said: " (We are) currently assessing what we can and can't do" and "looking at the effect that we're having on ... (militant) sites that are laying siege, and we're trying to reduce that threat," he said.

(China Daily 08/13/2014 page11)

Today's Top News

Editor's picks

Most Viewed

Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349