Iraqi refugees arrive in Syria with horrific stories to tell

A man shows off a wound he says was inflicted by Islamist fighters in northern Iraq Credit: Toby Nash/ITV News

A steady stream of Iraqi refugees has been trickling over the border into Syria after having trekked for days across parched earth to reach safety.

They represent some of the thousands of displaced people who became stranded on Mount Sinjar after escaping alleged atrocities at the hands of Islamist militants.

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One man at the Peshkabour border crossing over the Tigris River lifted his shirt to reveal a wound he said was inflicted by Islamist militants.

Another woman told Senior International Correspondent John Irvine how she had seen a severed head displayed on a car in her native village in Sinjar:

The refugees ranged from the elderly to the very young. One parent arrived cradling a 20-day-old infant - when they started their trek the child was just 11 days old.

Dakheel, a shepherd, said he left his 95-year-old mother when he set off on a gruelling walk to safety.

"I left my mother behind on the mountain in a cave. She said 'I want to stay here: go, save yourselves,'" he told a Reuters journalist.

This infant was just 11 days old when it embarked upon the journey from Mount Sinjar Credit: Toby Nash/ITV News

Some of those fleeing belong to the Yazidi minority, which fled when Islamist militants began shelling villages in northern Iraq. There have been reports of rapes and executions in mass graves.

For the last week, tens of thousands of people have been sleeping rough on a barren mountain range north of Sinjar, where food and water are scarce.

A young child sleeps after making the treacherous journey from Mount Sinjar Credit: Toby Nash/ITV News

Thousands of those have escaped in recent days, either by traversing the dry terrain to Syria or the Kurdish region, or in limited airlifts by the Iraqi military.

Refugees left their homes with only the belonging they could carry Credit: Toby Nash/ITV News

Britain and the US have made a number of airdrops in the last week, delivering much-needed humanitarian supplies to the mountainous region.

International Development Secretary Justine Greening said her department was "stepping up its work with charities across northern Iraq where nearly 1.5 million people have fled their homes in recent months.

“Our support is helping hundreds of thousands of Iraqis get the food, water and sanitation they desperately need.”