Via NPR — Led by Qasim Shesho, a legendary Peshmerga commander, a small group of Kurdish fighters defended a 800-year old sacred temple against ISIS onslaught for four months.
When ISIS seized control of the Iraqi-Syrian border in August, Peshmerga commander, and ethnic Yazidi Qasim Shesho decided that he would rather die than see Sharfadin, the oldest Yazidi temple in the world, overrun by ISIS.
Shesho was joined by eighteen Yazidi men, who in the beginning, defended the pale yellow temple, bullet by bullet, aiming to kill a member of ISIS with each shot. Food was so scarce that four men were sharing one round of flatbread each day.
Once the Kurdish government received news that the temple was still standing, Peshmerga reinforcements began to arrive on foot, and helicopters air dropped food and ammunition. Shesho’s own sons came from Germany to help their father defend the holy site.
By late December, US-led airstrikes helped liberate the area from ISIS, and end the siege of Sharfadin. When asked how he felt when the siege was over, Shesho replied, “We didn’t celebrate, we just cried.”