BEIRUT (TheBlaze/AP) — Thousands of members of a religious minority group have fled across the Iraq border into Syria after coming under attack by Islamic extremists, Syrian Kurdish officials said.

The Yazidis fled after Kurdish fighters were able to open a safe passage into Syria following clashes with the extremist Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, Ekrem Hasso and Juan Mohammad told The Associated Press on Saturday.

Image source: YouTube

Image source: YouTube

Their comments came as the U.S. launched airdrops to aid thousands of Yazidis who have been trapped on a mountaintop for days by the militants.

Image source: YouTube

Image source: YouTube

Yazidis follow an ancient religious tradition linked to Zoroastrianism and are viewed as heretics by ISIS, The Huffington Post said.

The extremist group has captured hundreds of Yazidi women, according to an Iraqi official, while thousands of other civilians have fled in fear as the militants seized a string of northern Iraqi towns and villages in recent days.

Kurdish TV station KurdSat released footage it said showed Saturday’s rescue of families in the mountains, The Huffington Post reported:

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