ITV News Senior International Correspondent John Irvine reports
ITV News has travelled to a Yazidi holy site where hundreds of families have taken refuge from Islamist fighters.
Lalish, situated close to the Islamic State held city of Mosul, is the the holiest site for Yazidis and its basic facilities are normally just used for visiting pilgrims seeking peace.
But the ancient site has now become a sanctuary for several hundred Yazidis who have escaped the Sinjar mountains, where thousands of Iraqis facing dehydration and dehydration are trapped.
As they advance across northern Iraq, Islamist militants are targeting Iraqi Christians and members of the Yazidi community.
A Yazidi woman from Sinjar cried as she told ITV News' John Irvine how Islamic State fighters had killed her husband and kidnapped her sisters.
She recalled how her husband and one of her sons had their throats cut by jihadists.
Her rapid escape meant she had no time to pick up her youngest child.
The woman pleaded for anyone to get her and her family out of Iraq.
The temple has provided temporary protection to hundreds, but there are fears its status as the holiest place in their religion will make it a target for Islamist militants who are barely 20 miles away.
Several Yazidis spoke of their desperation for asylum in other countries.
One refugee told ITV News he would rather live anywhere else but Iraq.
Despite practicing their religion in the region for 5,000 years, the Yazidi community has been "cast far and wide" within the space of a few days with many losing their relatives and homes.
"A barbaric intolerance of diversity is forcing into exile a timid and gentle people," ITV News' John Irvine said.