Friday, March 6, 2015
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Syrian Kurdish fighters rescue stranded Yazidis

Mideast Syria Iraq

Syrian Kurdish Peshmerga fighters stand guard while displaced Iraqis from the Yazidi community are on their way to cross the Syria-Iraq border at Derike, Syria, Sunday, Aug. 10, 2014. Kurdish authorities at the border believe 45,000 Yazidis passed the river crossing in the past week thousands more are still stranded in the mountains. (AP Photo/ Khalid Mohammed)

By
From page A9 | August 13, 2014 |

MALIKIYA, Syria — In a dusty camp here, Iraqi refugees have new heroes: Syrian Kurdish fighters who battled militants to carve out an escape route for tens of thousands trapped on a mountaintop.

While the U.S. and Iraqi militaries struggle to aid the starving members of Iraq’s Yazidi minority with supply drops from the air, the Syrian Kurds took it on themselves to rescue them. The move underlined how they — like Iraqi Kurds — are using the region’s conflicts to establish their own rule.

For the past few days, fighters have been rescuing Yazidis from the mountain, transporting them into Syrian territory to give them first aid, food and water, and returning some to Iraq via a pontoon bridge.

The Yazidis, a Kurdish-speaking minority who follow an ancient Mesopotamian faith, started to flee to the Sinjar mountain chain on Aug. 2, when militants from the extremist Islamic State group took over their nearby villages. The militants see them as heretics worthy of death.

“The (Kurdish fighters) opened a path for us. If they had not, we would still be stranded on the mountain,” said Ismail Rashu, 22, in the Newroz camp in the Syrian Kurdish town of Malikiya some 20 miles (30 kilometers) from the Iraqi border. Families had filled the battered, dusty tents here and new arrivals sat in the shade of rocks, sleeping on blue plastic sheets. Camp officials estimated that at least 2,000 families sought shelter there on Sunday evening.

Nearby, an exhausted woman rocked a baby to sleep. Another sobbed that she abandoned her elderly uncle in their village of Zouraba; he was too weak to walk, too heavy to carry.

Many said they hadn’t eaten for days on the mountain; their lips were cracked from dehydration and heat, their feet swollen and blackened from walking. Some elderly, disabled and young children were left behind. Others were still walking to where Syrian Kurds were rescuing them, they said.

“We are thankful, from our heads to the sky, to the last day on earth,” said Naji Hassan, a Yazidi at the Tigris river border crossing, where thousands of rescued Yazidis were heading back into Iraq on Sunday.

The U.N. estimated around 50,000 Yazidis fled to the mountain. But by Sunday, Kurdish officials said at least 45,000 had crossed through the safe passage, leaving thousands more behind and suggesting the number of stranded was higher.

Syrian Kurds have carved out effective self-rule in the northeastern corner of Syria where they make up the majority. But while members of the ethnic group in both Iraq and Syria pursue their destiny, the two communities are divided by political splits.

Iraq’s Kurds, who have managed a self-rule territory for over two decades, are dominated by factions that have built up strong ties with neighboring Turkey. Syria’s Kurds, however, are closer to longtime Turkish Kurdish rebels and until the 2011 uprising against President Bashar Assad were firmly under his control.

Syrian Kurdish officials said soon after Yazidis fled their villages, they began fighting to create a safe passage. They clashed with Islamic State fighters upon entering Iraq, losing at least 9 fighters, but by Aug. 7 had secured a safe valley passage, cramming Yazidis into jeeps, trucks and cars to bring them some 25 miles (40 kilometers) away. Some of the ill were even rushed to hospital.

“We answered their cries for help. They were in danger and we opened a safe passage for them into safety,” said military official Omar Ali. “We saw that we had to help them and protect them; they are Kurds and part of our nation.”

In saving Yazidis, Syrian Kurds were also demonstrating their own ambitions for independence as Syria’s civil war rages on.

They announced their autonomous area of Rojava in January, and rule several far northeastern Kurdish areas of Syria. Government forces stationed in the area were redeployed over two years ago to battle rebels seeking Assad’s overthrow, Syrian Kurdish officials said.

But in entering Iraq, the Syrian fighters are also challenging their Iraqi Kurdish rivals. They say they entered after the Iraqi Kurdish fighting force, called the peshmerga, fled Yazidi villages after short battles with Islamic militants. The peshmerga say they were outgunned by the militants.

The U.S. has since assisted the peshmerga fighters with airstrikes, and on Tuesday, a U.S. drone strike destroyed a militant mortar position threatening Kurdish forces defending refugees near the Syrian border. A day earlier, the U.S. said it would provide more weapons directly to Kurdish forces, but it was unclear what materiel was under consideration. Later Tuesday, the Iraqi military said a helicopter delivering aid to the displaced had crashed.

For now, with the peshmerga gone and state aid ineffective, the Yazidis who survived the mountaintop ordeal were counting on the Syrian Kurdish fighters. Covered in dust among crowds at the Tigris crossing, Hassan said without the fighters all would have been lost.

“Were it not for them, no Yazidi would be saved,” he said.

 

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 1 comment

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • P.J.August 13, 2014 - 11:00 am

    Not one word was mentioned, but I thought the U.S. had been dropping food and water to the people stranded in the mountains. Anyone know otherwise?

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

Solano News

 
Random thoughts on getting older by Annabelle . . . and Susan

By Susan Winlow | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Work progresses on freeway interchange project

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A1, 4 Comments | Gallery

 
Solano College grad becomes Marvel superhero

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

Caltrans announces planned I-80 closures

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A1

 
French guitarist brings world music to The Palms

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

Bay Area Stage readies ‘Mockingbird’ production

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

 
Let’s take a 2nd look at 1st cars

By Tony Wade | From Page: A2

 
Bike to School Day poster contest begins

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A3, 1 Comment

 
Youth talent, scholarship awards dinner set

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A4

Free 8-week Journey Through Grief class set

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A4

 
Audubon Society to hold talk on blackbird decline

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A4

 
Fairfield police log: March 4, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

Suisun City police log: March 4, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
.

US / World

SF hospital performs rare chain kidney swap

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
El niño might not be enough to help Ca drought

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
App developers take a swing at playgrounds

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

GOP legislator enters race for Boxer’s seat

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Japanese tsunami debris washing ashore

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Device in ‘Superbug’ outbreak not approved by FDA

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Freight train carrying crude oil derails in Illinois

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Supreme Court allows for compassionate release

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Off-duty officer accidentally shoots relative

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 3 Comments

 
Student protests block access to campus

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Air Force veteran who saved orphans in Korean War dies at 97

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6 | Gallery

 
Jurors in Jodi Arias case: We were 11-1 for death penalty

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Plane skids off LaGuardia runway, slams into fence near bay

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7 | Gallery

Father tells jury about boy’s death at Boston Marathon

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Hillary Clinton email trove under review for release

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Homeowners group denies playhouse for cancer-stricken girl

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Report: Suicides by girls and young women continue to climb

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Attack on US envoy part of S.Korea’s violent protest history

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10 | Gallery

 
Last Ebola patient is released in Liberia

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Floods kill 42 people in Tanzania, authorities say

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Death toll in east Ukraine mine blast reaches 33

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Syria says it killed military leader of al-Qaida group

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Iraq says Islamic State militants ‘bulldozed’ ancient site

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Companies form coalition to conserve during drought

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

 
.

Living

Today in History: March 6, 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: March 6, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

Horoscopes: March 6, 2015

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A9

 
Should I tell my coworker that her romantic emails are being read at work?

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A9

.

Entertainment

Week in preview March 6-12, 2015

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

 
Dying wish comes true: Dutch woman with ALS sees Rembrandts

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Announcer Craig Sager returns from leukemia to NBA sideline

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Comedy Central’s ‘Too Many Stars’ means plenty of laughs

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Jaime Camil shines as telenovela star on ‘Jane the Virgin’

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Shania Twain to launch final tour in June

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Elizabeth McCracken wins $20,000 short story prize

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Review: ‘Unfinished Business’ should never have started

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Review: ‘Second Best’ Marigold Hotel lives up to its title

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3 | Gallery

 
Entertainment calendar: March 6, 2015

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B4

 
TVGrid

By Daily Republic | From Page: B6

.

Sports

 
Jones-Drew retires, Woodley released by Raiders

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

Veteran defensive tackle Dockett joins 49ers on 2-year deal

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
Maddon makes debut with Cubs in spring tie with A’s

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
Hunter Pence breaks arm in Giants’ 8-6 win over Cubs

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
As NFLPA election looms, Smith hopes to keep ‘boring job’

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Ashley, McConnell lead No. 5 Arizona to 99-60 rout of Cal

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Holmes opens 4-shot PGA lead at Blue Monster

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Local Report: Labit pitches SCC to win over Folsom Lake

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B8

 
Prosecutors: No criminal charge for NASCAR driver Kurt Busch

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

This date in sports history for March 6, 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

 
.

Business

Toyota rolls out first mass-market cars to run on hydrogen fuel cells

By The Washington Post | From Page: C1 | Gallery

 
Can Etsy keep its folksy brand and make shareholders money?

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

Applications for US jobless aid inch up to a 10-month high

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

 
A robust US job market is expected to keep delivering

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11, 1 Comment

Largest US banks all pass latest round of Fed ‘stress tests’

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

 
Ringling Bros. Circus to give up elephant acts in 3 years

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11 | Gallery

Google providing car insurance quotes in latest expansion

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

 
.

Obituaries

Robert Charles Thierry

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

 
Thelma A. Roche

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Michele Jarvis

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics

Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9