Iraq official: Trapped Yazidis need international help

There are about 500,000 Yazidis, mostly in Iraq. They are an ancient people whose religion is a blend of Christianity, Islam and local traditions. One of their beliefs is that Mount Sinjar, where refugees are trapped by ISIS militants, is where Noah's Ark came to rest. Some Yazidi refugees have escaped the mountain and CBS News has their story.

Stranded on a barren mountain top, surrounded by violent Islamic extremists, thousands of Yazidis have spent ten days looking death in the face.

Those that have made it to safety tell harrowing stories of men being slaughtered - and young women being taken away by the militants.

ISIS began its rampage across northern Iraq two months ago. They call the land they've seized an Islamic state and they've targeted anyone who isn't a Sunni Muslim. But the Yazidis have been singled out because the militants believe they're devil worshipers.

"They think they are with no religion, so they can do with them as they want," said Atheel Al-Nujaifi, the Governor of Nineveh Province, which is home to the Yazidis.

He was forced to flee the capital -- Mosul -- when ISIS captured it in June.

"They want even kill the Yazidi, or change their religion," said Nujaifi."They come to force them to Islam, or to kill them."

Nujaifi told us it's possible to save the Yazidis, but only if the US and other countries intervene. He believes Iraqi leaders do not care about what happens to them.

"If we didn't get the help of the world, of the international help, the Yazidis will die there."

The governor blames Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki for flaming religious hatred, and only representing the interests of Shiite Muslims.

Many Sunni Muslims here in northern Iraq support ISIS because they feel they've been treated as second class citizens.

Perhaps the only way the Iraqi Government will defeat the militants is by starting to work for the interests of all Iraqis.

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  • Holly Williams

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