News / Middle East

    Pentagon: US Evacuation of Yazidis from Iraqi Mountain Unlikely

    • People inspect the site of a car bomb attack in Baghdad, Aug. 13, 2014.
    • Iraqi security forces stand guard during a pro-government demonstration supporting Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, in Baghdad, Aug. 13, 2014.
    • Pro-government supporters of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, chant slogans during a demonstration in Baghdad, Aug. 13, 2014.
    • An Iraqi man inspects the site of a car bomb attack in central Baghdad's busy commercial Karradah neighborhood, Aug. 13, 2014.
    • Iraqi security forces stand guard during a demonstration in support of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, in Baghdad, Aug. 13, 2014.
    • U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Gautambhai Patel operates a forklift to get pallets consisting of food and water to displaced citizens near Sinjar, Iraq, Aug. 11, 2014. (U.S. Department of Defense)
    • Service member volunteers prepare a pallet of food and water before loading it onto aircraft for air drops near Sinjar, Iraq, Aug. 11, 2014. (U.S. Department of Defense)
    • U.S. Air Force Captains Andrea Delosreyes, Trent Parker and Airman 1st Class Kevin Haggith, 340th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron, KC-135 Stratotanker aircrew, head to their aircraft for in-air refueling for F-16 Fighting Falcons completing missions over Iraq, Aug. 11, 2014. (U.S. Department of Defense)
    • Displaced people from the minority Yazidi sect, fleeing violence from forces loyal to the Islamic State in Sinjar town, get help from a member of the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) near the Syrian border town of Elierbeh of Al-Hasakah Governorate
    • Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga fighters take position as they monitor the area from their front line position in Bashiqa, a town 13 kilometers north-east of Mosul, Aug.12, 2014.
    Events in Iraq
    VOA News

    A possible U.S. mission to evacuate Yazidis trapped on Iraq's Mount Sinjar after they fled extremist Sunni militant fighters is unlikely to take place, following an assessment of the situation by a U.S. team, American military officials said.

    A small contingent of U.S. military advisers landed on Mount Sinjar early Wednesday. 

    "The team assessed there are far fewer Yazidis on Mt. Sinjar than previously feared,'' the Pentagon said in a statement. "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."

    Fewer than 20 U.S. personnel flew in darkness early in the morning to the mountain, made their assessment, and returned safely to the Kurdistan capital of Irbil by military air transport.

    The interagency assessment team included members of the U.S. Agency for International Development.

    While the United States will continue to provide humanitarian assistance as needed, an evacuation mission to rescue thousands of the Yazidi religious minorities trapped on the mountain is "far less likely," the Pentagon statement said.

    Earlier Wednesday, a key U.S. national security adviser, Ben Rhodes, had said President Barack Obama would decide within days whether to send American military troops to help the Iraqi civilians, including Christians and members of the Yazidi religious sect.

    They had fled brutal militants in the Islamic State group, who’d threatened to kill them unless they converted to Islam.

    On Tuesday, the U.S. deployed another 129 military advisers to assess the situation on Mount Sinjar and elsewhere in northern Iraq.

    "Our goal here is to work with the Iraqis and with international partners so that these people can get off that mountain and to a safer place," Rhodes said during a daily White House briefing, conducted in Edgartown, Massachusetts, where the president is vacationing with his family.   

    "Again, we don’t believe that that involves U.S. troops re-entering a combat role in Iraq."

    Obama has pledged that American troops, which he ordered withdrawn from Iraq in 2011, will not return to ground action in the current crisis.

    Last week, however, the U.S. leader authorized airstrikes against Islamic State fighters near Sinjar, with the attacks giving Kurdish fighters time to rescue more than 20,000 of those stranded on the mountain.

    U.S. planes have been carrying out airdrops to get supplies to the refugees.

    The military said late Tuesday it had conducted a sixth set of airdrops containing food and water, bringing the total amount of aid delivered so far to 100,000 meals and 27,000 gallons of water.

    Other allies assist

    Earlier this week, Massoud Barzani, president of Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdish region, asked the international community for help fighting the militants. The European Union failed to agree on a deal to supply weapons but said individual countries were free to make their own deals with Iraq.

    On Wednesday, British Prime Minister David Cameron said an international plan is being developed to rescue the refugees. He cut short his vacation in Portugal Wednesday to return to London to meet with advisers on the humanitarian crisis.

    Cameron rejected demands by some British lawmakers to intervene militarily in Iraq. But he said Britain would play a role in the rescue plan, just as it already has with the United States in dropping food and water to the marooned refugees, some of whom have died in the extreme heat.

    "I can confirm that detailed plans are now being put in place and are underway and that Britain will play a role in delivering them," Cameron said.

    Also Wednesday, French President Francois Hollande's office said arms would be delivered in a matter of hours to Kurdish forces, with the coordination of the Iraqi government.

    Maliki digs in

    Meanwhile, Iraq's incumbent Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said he will not give up power until a federal court rules on President Fouad Massoum's decision to appoint Haider al-Abadi to take over the leadership post.

    Maliki said during his weekly address Wednesday that Abadi's appointment to replace him violated the constitution and "had no value."   

    Maliki's critics accuse him of marginalizing Iraq's minorities.

    He has been trying to extend his eight-year rule for a third term as Iraq moves to form a new government, but he has lost the support of the international community. 

    On Wednesday, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei lent his support to Abadi, the clearest sign yet that Tehran was no longer standing by Maliki.

    "I hope the designation of the new prime minister in Iraq will untie the knot and lead to the establishment of a new government and teach a good lesson to those who aim for sedition in Iraq,” Khamenei said during a meeting, according to a statement on his website.

    Abadi has won swift endorsements from the United States and Iran as he called on political leaders to end feuds that have allowed Islamist militants to seize a third of Iraq.

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Lyndon from: venice fla
    August 14, 2014 1:36 AM
    The us role is to use its might to bring peace to a world full of hate to not just bring food and water but peace

    by: Donald Fraser Miles from: Elliot Lake, Canada
    August 13, 2014 7:41 PM
    It is in America's interest to confront Isis. Humanitarian relief alone may not suffice to solve the problem. This will likely require troops on the ground as well as special operations and humanitarian relief operations. America and its allies are justly serving their own interests as well as those in need by deploying troops to destroy the Isis military apparatus. I conclude the deployment would take about 9-12 months of combat. I believe the combat operation will be necessary to protect the needy and the success of the humanitarian relief operation.
    In Response

    by: david from: cali
    August 14, 2014 1:29 AM
    Donald I agree. Why half step. If we don't show force and stop this this time we will be going back over and over. All allies need to group and end it all. Now!

    by: Shamsudeen Salisu from: kano
    August 13, 2014 5:17 PM
    US government what's of people in GAZA, under the massacres of Israel or because they are Muslims? Keeping watching only verbal story without physical action. History it's reapect it self.

    by: Igor from: Russia
    August 13, 2014 11:30 AM
    Why is the West so good and generous to the Kurd? The answer is simple enough. The West wishes to separate the Kud from Iraq territory to creat an independent Kurd country following the West policy just like Israel. Then the Kurd will become the right hand of the USA and a friend of Israel. If the West was so good, they would have not tried to support terrorists against Syrian government.
    In Response

    by: david from: cali
    August 14, 2014 1:24 AM
    Igor you know nothing.... USA is only trying to start them to form there own government that has nothing to do with us but only to be in peace. Check your info before opening your mouth!
    In Response

    by: Ignor
    August 13, 2014 3:27 PM
    Take one look at the history of the West working with the Kurds and you will realize wrong what you just said is. If the West wanted the Kurds to have a country, they would have given it to them when they promised it decades ago. Or they would have given it to them when they invaded Iraq. Or they just say "We will buy Kurdish Oil" and make a country overnight.

    Kurds want an independent nation. West has been holding them back and restraining them because of other interests.

    by: meanbill from: USA
    August 13, 2014 10:30 AM
    The real threat to the whole Middle East and the whole Muslim world, (is the US), that in 20011 started arming and training tens of thousands of (foreign) Sunni Muslims ultra extremists from around the world in Jordan and Turkey, (who didn't owe loyalty or allegiance to anybody), to wage war on the Assad Shia Muslim Syrian government, with the intentions to remove Assad from power.... ignoring the warnings from Russia and others, that the US was creating a (Sunni/Shia) Muslim Jihad war, that would spill over into the neighboring border countries.... but the US wouldn't listen !!!!

    THEN IN 2013... ex-(Al-Qaeda of Iraq) al-Baghdadi came from Iraq, (and recruited) those same tens of thousands of (foreign) Sunni Muslim ultra extremists from all over the world, that the US had armed and trained in Jordan and Turkey, (who didn't have any loyalty or allegiance to anybody), to join his (ISIL) Sunni Muslim militia in Syria, and wage Jihad and kill anybody that wasn't a Sunni Muslim (and then), al-Baghdadi formed his new (ISIL) Sunni Muslim al-Baghdadi army from the tens of thousands of foreign Sunni Muslim ultra extremists that the US armed and trained in Jordan and Turkey, into the (ISIL) Sunni Muslim army of the "Caliphate of all Islam"...

    THEN IN 2014..... The "Emir of the Believers" al-Baghdadi led his (ISIL) Sunni Muslim army into Iraq, with the bulk of his army being those tens of thousands of foreign Sunni Muslim ultra-extremists from all over the world, that had been armed and trained by the US in Jordan and Turkey, (and then, by mutual agreement), the Sunni Muslims in the Iraq military, cities and towns, (VOLUNTARILY) joined with the (ISIL) Sunni Muslim army, and swore by Allah the (Bay'ah), oath of allegiance to al-Baghdadi, (and once given), they must obey and submit to him, and not make war on him, as long as it does not disobey the laws of Allah, and to make Allah's word supreme in the world, and restore the glory of Sunni Muslim Islam....

    If only the US had used common sense, and not armed and trained the tens of thousands of (foreign) Sunni Muslim ultra-extremists from all over the world, to wage Jihad against non-Sunni Muslims?)... NOW is the (ISIL) army, the fault of al-Maliki, or the US ignorance?
    In Response

    by: david from: cali
    August 14, 2014 1:26 AM
    Mean bill your not only stupid but your a trader. Get bout of the us we don't need you!

    by: ali baba from: new york
    August 13, 2014 10:15 AM
    great. Sending weapons to Kurds to defend themselves from this thugs. What about sending weapons to Syrian president Bashar El Assad to fight these thugs . I believe with reality to let Bashar el Assad fight these thugs
    In Response

    by: Peterkins from: East Africa
    August 14, 2014 4:59 AM
    Kurds are not killing their own people, however, President Bashar El is mistreating and killing his own people ..There is a very big difference, please, cant you see even that?

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