Displaced Yazidi people fleeing across a bridge into Syria from northern Iraq told FRANCE 24 reporters on the ground of the horrors committed by Islamist militants terrorising their region.
"They took the women and the young girls. The men were killed with butcher's knives,” one young woman told FRANCE 24.
“They cut off their arms and their legs. They killed my family, I have no one now,” a young man added.
Yazidis, a Kurdish-speaking religious minority, are fleeing the violence of the militant group Islamic State in Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS or ISIL), which wants to force them to convert to Islam.
Yazidis have suffered religious persecution for generations because of their beliefs, which include some elements similar to Christianity, Judaism and other ancient religions. ISIS (which now calls itself the Islamic State) militants consider them "devil worshippers", because of a similarity in the name of a spirit they worship and the Arabic word for “devil”.
Reporting from the border between Syria and Iraq, FRANCE 24 correspondent Adam Pletts said even bread and water were unavailable to the thousands of refugees from Sinjar: “Some won’t cross this bridge alive. In this ambulance is the body of a young man who died of dehydration in the desert."
“It’s perhaps an irony that so many people are fleeing for safety to Syria, which is itself embroiled in a three-year civil war. But that’s an indication of just how desperate the situation is for those fleeing the violence of ISIS.”