The Pentagon has said a possible US mission to rescue Yazidis trapped on Iraq’s Mount Sinjar is less likely to take place after special forces assessed that there are fewer civilians trapped than previously feared.
“The Yazidis who remain are in better condition than previously believed and continue to have access to the food and water that we have dropped,” the Pentagon said in a statement. Tens of thousands had been reported trapped on the mountain last week.
“Based on this assessment the interagency has determined that an evacuation mission is far less likely,” it said, adding that the United States would continue to provide humanitarian assistance as needed.
A team including personnel from the US military and the US Agency for International Development had landed on Iraq’s northern Sinjar Mountain early on Wednesday to assess a civilian rescue operation.
Thousands of people, including members of the Yazidi religious minority, have fled to the mountain to escape an advance by Sunni fighters from the “Islamic State” (IS) militant group.
Last week, the US carried out two airstrike missions against IS fighters. Washington also confirmed it had shipped arms and ammunition to Iraqi Kurdish forces.
Aid for Iraq
European leaders are due to meet in Brussels on Friday to coordinate support for Iraqi Kurds in their fight against IS.
Paris has already confirmed that it had begun shipping arms to northern Iraq, “In order to respond to the urgent need expressed by the Kurdistan regional authorities.”
For Germany’s part, Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen announced Tuesday that Berlin would support Iraq’s army by delivering non-lethal military aid such as armored vehicles, helmets, night-vision equipment, booby-trap detectors and medical supplies.
hc/lw (Reuters, AFP, AP)