UK & World News
Yazidis Return To Mountains On Rescue Mission
Tens of thousands of people from the ancient Yazidi community were left stranded on top of Mount Sinjar when Islamic State militants took over their towns and villages on August 2.
Among them was Azeez Hussein and his entire family.
They spent eight days on Mount Sinjar with little food or water until Azeez decided they were going to die on the mountain if they did not try to escape.
Two days later he made it to Duhok in northern Iraq.
It took him and his wife over 20 hours of walking to flee, carrying their seven children, including their three-week-old baby girl.
When we finally met him he was traumatised and kept saying he needed to go back.
His decision to leave with his children meant he could not take his elderly parents, who were still stuck on the mountain surrounded by the militants.
So we went with Azeez to the crossing point leading back to Sinjar. As we approached the bridge, we found hundreds of Yazidis queuing to get across.
Azeez's cousins were at the front of the line, they had already been there for hours. They too were returning so they could try to bring back their parents.
All around us we heard tragic stories of loss and despair.
I asked one man why he was going back rather than waiting for the Kurdish Peshmerga forces or the Americans to rescue their families.
"Because our families will die waiting," he replied.
Another Yazidi man told us about how he saw Islamic State fighters abduct people in his village. He said they tried to convert him to Islam but he refused and escaped.
American and British representatives were also at the bridge crossing.
But Yazidis said they felt abandoned by the international community who are now indicating there is no need for a rescue mission.
"We are assessing the situation and seeing how much more we can help beyond what we have already provided," Richard Guera from the Department for International Development told us.
After five hours, the crossing finally opened. Azeez's cousins crossed the bridge but they have a difficult journey ahead.
They will need to drive through the mountains into Syria and then cross back into Iraq. From there, it is a seven-hour walk to the towns and villages where their families are trapped.
Despite the aid and arms pledged by the international community, it is being left to Yazidi fathers, brothers and sons to return to a place where they almost died escaping from, to save those nobody else will.