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ICC Note: On August 3, 2014, militants from the radical Islamist group ISIS attacked the land of Iraq’s minority Yazidis. During the attack, hundreds of men were murdered while countless women were enslaved and subjected to sexual abuse. One year later, those who survived the ambush scattered throughout the region with a shrinking population and grief still fresh in their minds.

By Sharon Behn

08/02/2015 Iraq (Voice of America) – A year ago, on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women.

The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists.

Yazidis who survived that massacre are scattered around the region. About a two hour drive north of the northern Kurdish city of Irbil, amid dusty, rocky hills is Lalish, the site of a famous Yazidi shrine. On this Sunday, a day before the anniversary, Yazidi families are walking into the shrine grounds in 50-degree (Celsius) heat to meet, pray and wash in the holy waters of their temple.

‘There was no food, no water’

Murad Aloo, is one of them. Wearing all black, he walks around the temple grounds, stopping at the stand selling water and ice cream. But he finds little peace here. The images of what happened 12 months ago is seared into his mind.

On that day, he said, the shooting started at around 10 in the morning. When the Yazidis realized they were going to be slaughtered by the oncoming Islamic State militants, they fled by the thousands to Sinjar mountain.

“I will never forget what happened. I saw mothers leaving their daughters behind, fearing for their own lives. I saw women and men being slaughtered, even pregnant women.”

Aloo pulls out his cell phone to show a picture of his brother. Aloo says his brother decided to stay and fight for Yazidi land, and he has never seen him again.

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