10,000 Yezidis rescued through safe corridor, as ISIL 'fire on aid helicopters'
Courtesy of Rudaw
Iraqi Kurdish security forces have rescued a total of 10,000 Yezidi people so far from Mount Sinjar near Mosul in northern Iraq, Anadolu Agency reported, citing a local official.
Meanwhile, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants fired on the helicopters that carried humanitarian aid to Yezidis, also known as Ezidis, according to a Rudaw report.
Sinjar District Governor told during a press conference on August 9 that they are using a safe corridor jointly set up by Iraqi Kurdish security forces, or Peshmarga, and YPG, the Popular Protection Units that were set up by Syrian Kurds, to evacute the Yezidi people from Mount Sinjar in Iraq and move them to Syria.
Mount Sinjar, situated in northwest Iraq near the border with Syria, has been home to thousands of Yezidis, Kurdish ethno-religious community in northern Iraq, who have fled to safety in fear of being massacred by ISIL militants who consider them "devil-worshippers."
The governor said the rescue efforts went well but added that they need more means to accelerate the evacuation of the stranded Yezidis, dozens of whom have died of thirst and heat on the mountain surrounded by militants.
"We are transferring the rescued Yezidis to Syria via a safe corridor. Then we will take them to Zakho city in the Duhok province of the Kurdish autonomous region," he added.
According to the UN figures released before the latest operation, approximately 50,000 Yezidis, half of them children, were in the region.
International efforts continue to transfer the much-needed humanitarian aid for Yezidis. Iraqi Kurdish news outlet Rudaw reported August 9 that ISIL fighters tried to shoot down a helicopter carrying humanitarian supplies provided by Rwanga Charity Organization. The Iraqi Kurdish gunner responded with heavy fire and the helicopter could land on Mount Sinjar amid Yezidis "ran from every direction and raised their hands for help," the report said. Twenty of them were reportedly evacuated from the region by the same helicopter:
Humanitarian supplies from Turkey were also dropped by Iraqi helicopters to Yezidis, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu announced on August 7.
So far, the U.S. military cargo planes have delivered two humanitarian airdrops of meals and fresh drinking water to stranded Yezidis. U.S. drones bombed ISIL positions and also artillery used to shell Kurdish forces defending Erbil city where U.S. personnel are located.
The attacks came after President Barack Obama authorized U.S. personnel in Arbil on August 7 evening to protect and support Kurdish forces in Iraq as they fight to break the siege of Mount Sinjar.
The Sinjar region fell to militant hands on August 3 after fierce clashes with Peshmerga forces who had to withdraw after the city's capture.