Before ISIS attacked it, the northern Iraqi town of Snuny had a population of nearly 150,000 — a mix of Kurdish Muslims and Yazidis, who belong to a religious ethnic minority in this region. Only about 10,000 have returned after Kurdish fighters reclaimed the city. Ari Shapiro/NPR hide caption

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The temple of Sharfadin in Northern Iraq is 800 years old, and followers of the Yazidi religion consider it one of the most sacred sites in the world. Though ISIS tried to destroy it, a small group of Yazidi fighters kept the shrine standing. Ari Shapiro/NPR hide caption

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An Iraqi man inspects the remains of what are believed to be members of the Yazidi minority, in the northern village of Sinuni on Feb. 3. Safin Hamed/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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A mentally disabled Yazidi man is carried to a bus that will bring him to the Kurdish city of Dohuk, after being released by Islamic militants, in Alton Kupri, outside Kirkuk, Iraq, on Sunday. Bram Janssen/AP hide caption

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Many Yazidis, like the ones shown here, managed to flee the onslaught of the so-called Islamic State and made their way to relative safety, like this camp near the northern Iraqi border crossing of Zakho. However, some 5,000 Yazidis, many of them women, are still being held hostage by the Islamic State. EPA/Landov hide caption

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Iraqi Yazidi women who fled the violence in the northern Iraq take shelter in the city of Dohuk on Aug. 5. The Yazidis, are a small community that follows an ancient faith and have been repeatedly targeted by jihadists. Yazidi leaders say several thousands members of the community have gone missing in recent months. Safin Hamed/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Displaced Iraqis from the Yazidi community settle under a bridge in central Dahuk, Aug. 14. Human rights activists say evidence of the Islamic State's violence against the Yazidis points to war crimes, and amounts to ethnic cleansing. Khalid Mohammed/AP hide caption

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Lincoln, Neb., is home to a sizable community of Iraqi Yazidis — including Ismaeil Khalaf, shown here in his home watching the latest news about the Yazidi crisis in Iraq. Lincoln Yazidis petitioned for U.S. intervention to prevent the genocide of their friends and family. Nati Harnik/AP hide caption

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Displaced people from the minority Yazidi sect walk toward the Syrian border on the outskirts of Sinjar mountain on Monday. A U.S. assessment team says far fewer refugees are stranded on Mount Sinjar than previously thought. Reuters/Landov hide caption

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Staff Sgt. Daniel Leavindofske and Senior Airman David Babcock help load bundles of halal meals onto a cargo aircraft for a humanitarian mission over Iraq on Saturday. Staff Sgt. Vernon Young Jr./U.S. Air Force via Getty Images hide caption

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U.S. soldiers carry Iraqi Kurdish children into the Zakho refugee camp in 1991. The U.S. military provided humanitarian relief to Iraqi Kurdish families fleeing Saddam Hussein's army. The rescue operation announced Thursday by President Obama is taking place in the same region. Joel Robine/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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