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Iraqi who made tearful plea for Yazidi rescue nearly killed attempting one

Iraqi Yazidis flee across the Syrian border; Mount Sinjar is visible in the distance
Iraqi Yazidis flee across the Syrian border; Mount Sinjar is visible in the distance
AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty

Iraq's only Yazidi lawmaker, a woman named Vian Dakhil who last week captured the world's attention with an emotional speech on the floor of parliament pleading for help against the genocide of her people, was on board one of the helicopter aid missions she'd asked for when it crashed today over Mount Sinjar. It was delivering aid to thousands of starving Yazidis that Dakhil had said were being exterminated in a genocide.

The crash killed the pilot but has so far only injured Dakhil and 19 other passengers, according to early reports from the Kurdish news outlet Rudaw. Another of the injured was Alissa Rubin, a reporter for the New York Times. It's not yet clear what plans there are to rescue them from Sinjar, a dangerous place even without injuries.

Dakhil's injury is an especially tragic turn for a crisis that has had many. A week ago, she was fighting to get Iraq and the outside world to help the thousands of Yazidis trapped on Mount Sinjar, without food or water and besieged by ISIS militants seeking to kill them. For her to finally receive that aid, in the form of US air strikes and Iraqi aid convoys, only to be injured while helping to administer it, seems a sadly fitting symbol for the ceaseless torments of the Yazidis.

For the outside world, Dakhil's tearful, shaking speech to Iraq's parliament helped give the crisis a face and a sense of its urgency. It also demonstrated the depth of her commitment to her people, as she shouted over Iraq's famously raucous legislators to demand their attention.

"Mr. Speaker, we are being slaughtered," she said. "An entire religion is being exterminated from the face of the earth." Dakhil's warnings are still just as true today as they were a week ago, and just as urgent.