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  1. ITV Report

The holy site providing protection for hundreds of Yazidis

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.

The Lalish temple is the holiest for Yazidis. Credit: Reuters

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.

The Yazidis community has been targeted by Islamist militants. Credit: ITV News

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.

This woman from Sinjar cried as she recalled how militants killed her husband. Credit: ITV News/Lutfi Abu-Aun

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.

These children are among hundreds to seek refuge in the temple. Credit: ITV News/Lutfi Abu-Aun
Hundreds of families with children have fled to the temple. Credit: ITV News/Lutfi Abu-Aun

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.

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