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'Far fewer' stranded on Iraq mountain than thought, US says

Displaced Iraqis from the Yazidi community cross the Syrian-Iraqi border along the Fishkhabur bridge over the Tigris River, in northern Iraq, on August 13, 2014The United States said its troops found “far fewer” Yazidi refugees marooned on a northern Iraqi mountain than expected, making an evacuation mission less likely, after air strikes pummeled besieging Islamic militants. The UN refugee agency has said tens of thousands of civilians, many of them members of the Yazidi religious minority, remain trapped on Mount Sinjar by jihadists from the so-called Islamic State (IS), which has overrun large swathes of Iraq and Syria in a lightning and brutal offensive. Pentagon press secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby said that the troops, which consisted of less than 20 personnel, did not engage in any combat. “The team has assessed that there are far fewer Yazidis on Mount Sinjar than previously feared, in part because of the success of humanitarian air drops, air strikes on ISIL targets, the efforts of the [Kurdish] Peshmerga and the ability of thousands of Yazidis to evacuate from the mountain each night over the last several days.

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