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According to officials, U.S. airstrikes have allowed between 20,000 and 30,000 Iraqis—mostly members of the minority Yazidi religious sect—to escape an isolated mountain area where they had fled following recent advances by ISIS. Many of the families stranded in the remote mountains faced mass starvation and a lack of water. Those who were able to escape initially fled into Syria, and were then safely escorted back to Iraqi Kurdistan. A Kurdish official however told The Guardian that they are still unsure how many more of the Yazidi people are there, and rescue and humanitarian efforts will be on-going.

The Yazidi practice an ancient religion that ISIS—or, “The Islamic State” as they radical Sunni group are now calling themselves—theologically oppose. In an interview with Reuters, Iraq’s human rights minister said that the Islamic militants executed at least 500 Yazidis and kidnapped 300 women. Last week, President Obama authorized airstrikes in an Iraq in effort to stop ISIS from their brutal takeover of the region. The group has terrorized villages with unspeakable savagery against anyone who does not hold their radical beliefs: They’ve video taped beheadings, systematically executed Christian children and publicly crucified civilians …