US evacuation of Iraq mountain 'less likely': Pentagon

Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby conducts a media briefing on April 29, 2014 in Washington, DCThere are “far fewer” Yazidi refugees marooned on Mount Sinjar in northern Iraq than previously thought and they are in better condition than expected, the Pentagon said Wednesday. “Based on this assessment, the interagency has determined that an evacuation mission is far less likely,” Pentagon press secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby said in a statement after US troops were flown onto the mountain to see the refugees’ plight firsthand. The UN refugee agency has said tens of thousands of civilians, many of them members of the Yazidi minority, remain trapped on the mountain by jihadists from the so-called Islamic State (ISIL), which has overrun large swaths of Iraq and Syria in a lightning and brutal offensive. Last week, President Barack Obama authorized air strikes to protect Yazidi refugees and US personnel in Arbil, the capital of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region, but he too has insisted that US “combat troops” will not return to war in the unstable nation.

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