Iraq mountain siege winding down but crisis remains: UN

The number of Iraqi civilians arriving in camps on both sides of the Syrian border after being besieged for days by jihadist fighters has declined sharply, a UN spokesman said Thurday.

AFP| Updated: Aug 14, 2014, 23:29 PM IST

Dohuk: The number of Iraqi civilians arriving in camps on both sides of the Syrian border after being besieged for days by jihadist fighters has declined sharply, a UN spokesman said Thurday.

"We can definitely say there`s been a decrease in the number of people crossing compared to the thousands we had been seeing each day," Ned Cole, a spokesman for the UN refugee agency told.

Tens of thousands of people, many from the Yazidi minority, were forced to flee their homes at the beginning of the month when Islamic State militants attacked the northwestern town of Sinjar and its surroundings.

Most of them remained stranded on the nearby Sinjar mountain, sometimes sheltering in caves with little to eat or drink, for days.

US air strikes launched nearly a week ago in the area allowed Kurdish troops to organise evacuations.

Survivors saw on the Syrian side of the border on Thursday said most of those still on the mountain were too old to walk.

Thousands of families fled into Syria and made the long journey on foot to a border crossing back into the relative safety of Iraq`s autonomous Kurdish region.

The region has seen an influx of more than 200,000 displaced people this month alone.

Cole said only about 500 of them crossed the Tigris back into Iraq in the first hours after the border bridge opened on Thursday.

"It`s basically over, we`re waiting for the last people to cross and the US strikes to start bombing the Sinjar area," a Kurdish security official told.