A group of between 10,000 and 50,000 Yazidi Kurds are trapped on Mount Sinjar in northwestern Iraq without food or water. The Yazidis are an ancient community, concentrated in northwestern Iraq but also found in Iran, Syria and Turkey.

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Girls and boys from a Yazidi religious school sing hymns and prayers at Lalesh templeAFP

Their religion is thought to have been founded in the 11th century and is derived from the ancient Persian faith of Zoroastrianism. They also take elements from Christianity and Islam, such as baptism and circumcision. They revere both the Bible and the Koran, but much of their own tradition is oral. One cannot convert to Yazidism, only be born into it.

Yazidis believe God created the world and placed it into the care of seven angels, the main one being named Malak Tawous. Embodied on Earth by a peacock, Malak Tawous was thrown out of paradise by God for refusing to bow to Adam, but was forgiven and returned to heaven.

Another name for Malak Tawous is "Shaytan", which is Arabic for devil. This has led to the Yazidis being labelled as devil worshippers.

Their holiest site is Lalesh temple, situated in a valley in Nineveh Province. Yazidis are expected to make a pilgrimage to the temple at least once in their lives. Lalesh temple is the site of the tomb of Adi ibn Musafir, who is believed to be a descendant of the Peacock Angel, Malak Tawous.

IBTimes UK presents a gallery of photographs taken at Lalesh temple.

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Yazidi women light candles and torches outside Lalesh temple during a ceremony to celebrate the Yazidi New Year, on 17 April 2007AFP
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Iraqi Yazidis light candles outside Lalesh temple, situated in a valley near Dohuk, to celebrate Yazidi New Year and the arrival of the light into the worldAFP
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A Yazidi man embraces a pillar as he makes a wish in a tunnel at Lalesh templeAFP
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A woman kisses a wall during a ritual at Lalesh templeAFP
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Iraqi Yazidis perform a traditional dance outside Lalesh templeAFP
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An Iraqi Yazidi woman kisses the hand of a cleric at Lalesh templeAFP
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Yazidi worshippers take part in their main festival of Eid al-Jamma, which lasts for a week, at Lalesh temple, on 7 October, 2010Reuters
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Iraqi Yazidis light oil lamps during the climatic ceremony of the Yazidi Feast of Assembly at Lalesh templeAFP
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Yazidis walk through tunnels inside Lalesh templeAFP