In this Sunday, Jan. 11, 2015 photo, a Yazidi fighter looks inside a damaged Iraqi armored vehicle that had been used by fighters from the Islamic State group near Sinjar, northern Iraq. (AP Photo/Seivan Selim)
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As thousands of Yazidis fled up the rocky slopes of Mount Sinjar to escape the Islamic State group during its rampage across northern Iraq last summer, 18 men armed with assault rifles remained behind to face the extremists and defend a holy site.Behind their meager number stood the Sharaf al-Deen temple shrine, one of the holiest for the Yazidis, a religious minority whom the Islamic State group considers heretics ripe for slaughter. The shrine came under attack at least 16 times during the Islamic State onslaught, local fighters say, but the Yazidis held the line with help from Kurdish peshmerga forces who supplied weapons.
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