ISIL atrocities on Yezidi ethnic group near Sinjar

By 2014, ISIL’s movement from eastern Syria and northern Iraq had wedged the Yezidi ethnic group into an inescapable position around the Sinjar Mountains in northwestern Iraq. As a result, the Yezidi people were trapped without reliable access to food or water.

ISIL systematically pursued a campaign of mass execution and genocide against this vulnerable population–actions widely considered to be crimes against humanity. The international community looked to US Special Forces and the local Kurdish Peshmerga fighters to liberate the desperate Yezidis from their captors.


Burial sites.

Reports indicate that ISIL frequently uses existing burial sites as mass graves.

Non-primary roads

ISIL movement and connectivity can be documented and analyzed even along rural routes.

ISIL-destroyed structures.

Frequently linked to ISIL events, these sites have highest likelihood of encountering ISIL in the area.


Water wells.

Activity around water infrastructure corroborates reports that ISIL intentionally kept the Yezidis from water resources.

Primary roads

According to reports, ISIL placed IEDs along the main routes to disrupt patrols and incursions from coalition forces.

Kurdish areas.

The Kurds are enemies of ISIL, and their Peshmerga fighting force is a local ally in the area–two facts that significantly impact mission planning.


Intelligence and pattern analysis results indicate a grouping of particularly vulnerable Yezidi villages with no access to resources in the middle section of the Sinjar Mountains (as indicated by the yellow circle). These villages are just barely within historical areas of Kurdish influence. This fact could be leveraged to support an evacuation mission led by US SOF and Peshmerga forces.

Cross-Country Mobility Analysis Results

Recommended On-Foot Route

This optimal non-vehicular evacuation route follows the most favorable terrain with only slight overlap with predicted ISIL probability areas.

Recommended Vehicle Route

This is the recommended route to the designated landing zone for the CV-22s beginning at the vehicle rendezvous site.

Alternative Walking Path Areas

All other favorable terrain conducive to on-foot evacuation to the vehicular rendezvous site (if the primary recommended route is unavailable) is shown.

Alternative Vehicle Path Areas

All other favorable terrain conducive to vehicular evacuation routing to the CV-22 landing zone (if the primary recommended route is unavailable) is also shown.

Connected Viewshed

All locations visible to the on-foot and vehicular evacuation routes are identified.


Peshmerga Security Perimeters

These locations represent the optimal sites to leverage the Peshmerga ground forces. The creation of a security perimeter will provide protection from ISIL attacks to the evacuation routes.

Drop Zone Support

Air support is recommended for security in the vicinity of the drop zone.