US weighing next steps for Ezidis on Mount Sinjar
White House official says 130 U.S. military personnel deployed to northern Iraq would assess all options including security corridor and airlift operation to move people off the mountain
The U.S. has been deliberating on several options to facilitate the removal of Ezidis from the Mount Sinjar in northern Iraq where they have been trapped by Islamic State (IS) militants since last week, according to a White House official.
The White House deputy national security advisor, Benjamin Rhodes, said Wednesday that 130 U.S. military personnel deployed to northern Iraq would assess all options including creating security corridor and airlift operation to move people off the mountain. Washington would rely on their reports before taking any decision, he added.
The U.S. Air Force has conducted several airstrikes on IS elements and several humanitarian airdrops supplying people trapped on the Mount Sinjar with water and food since U.S. President Barack Obama authorized targeted air strikes last week.
"At the same time, there needs to be a lasting solution that gets that population to a safe space where they can receive more permanent assistance," Rhodes said.
However, Obama has ruled out the option of ground troops in Iraq since early June when the IS militants plunged into several cities of the country including Mosul.
Reiterating that the U.S. ground troops would not take a combat role in Iraq, Rhodes said Obama was open to all recomendations to facilitate the removal of Ezidis from the mountain in a humanitarian mission.
Rhodes also said that U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron had indicated that they wanted to work with the U.S. to get Ezidis to a safe place.
Armed groups linked to the Islamic State, formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, captured Iraq's Sinjar and Rabia in the Nineveh province last week after fierce clashes, forcing thousands of Iraqis including Turkmen, Arabs and Ezidis to flee.
The violence in Iraq escalated in early June after a coalition of armed groups linked to the Islamic State took control of large swathes of the country's predominantly Sunni provinces.
Last Modified: 2014-08-14 10:11:03
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