(CNN) – The U.S. military carried out a new series of airstrikes Sunday against ISIS targets in Iraq, while some 20,000 Yazidi Iraqis who had been trapped on Mount Sinjar were rescued and taken to the Syrian-Iraqi border.
Iraqi Ministry of Human Rights spokesman Kamil Amin told CNN that Kurdish forces were able to break the siege by ISIS and help thousands of stranded Yazidis board trucks, which drove them to the Syrian border town of Hasaka near Iraq. They were then driven north along the Syrian-Iraqi border to Dohuk, a region in northern Iraq’s Kurdish region.
In Dohuk, the Kurdish government helped the refugees find shelter, Amin said.
The Yazidis are a target of ISIS, which calls itself the Islamic State and was known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Yazidis are part of one the world’s oldest monotheistic religious minorities. Their religion is considered a pre-Islamic sect that draws from Christianity, Judaism and the ancient monotheistic religion of Zoroastrianism. [eap_ad_1] Before the rescue operation, there had been between 50,000 and 60,000 Yazidis stranded on the mountain, Amin said, and thousands remain.
Last week, President Barack Obama authorized targeted attacks not only to protect Iraqi minorities from ISIS’ murderous rampage, but also Americans stationed in the Kurdish regional capital of Irbil.
The U.S. continued its airstrikes Sunday, and within five hours it had struck five targets, including armed vehicles and a mortar position, U.S. Central Command said.
The strikes began at 9:15 a.m. local time (2:15 a.m. ET) Sunday, the military said.
Kurdish forces also recaptured two towns from ISIS, a senior Kurdish official said.