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Iraq Turmoil

Thousands of Yazidi Flee ISIS in Iraq and Into Syria

3:21

Kurdish fighters have reportedly opened up a passage allowing thousands of members of a minority group under attack by ISIS militants to flee Iraq and into Syria, another country torn by conflict.

The claim by Kurdish official Juan Mohammad that more than 20,000 Yazidi are on their way to Syria could not be confirmed by NBC News, but the humanitarian International Rescue Committee said Friday it had helped at least 4,000 dehydrated Yazidi, most of them women and children, flee the Sinjar mountains and into the Newrooz camp in Syria. Mohammad told The Associated Press that Kurdish fighters opened the route after clashes with ISIS militants and are protecting the fleeing refugees, who had been trapped for a week.

The Yazidi practice an ancient Kurdish religion with links to Zoroastrianism and are seen as infidels by some Sunni Muslims. ISIS has targeted the group for elimination as it seeks to “purify” Iraq, a terror campaign that prompted President Barack Obama to order airstrikes to prevent “an act of genocide.”

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— Phil Helsel with The Associated Press