Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced today that the Pentagon has sent 130 additional advisers to northern Iraq to assess evacuation options for the thousands of Yazidis trapped on Mount Sinjar without food, water, and shelter.
Members of the religious group fled to the mountain after being targeted by ISIS attacks. NPR estimates that "as many as 40,000" Yazidis are currently stranded on the mountain.
Another defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity to provide additional details on the sensitive mission, said the extra troops were Marines and special operations forces whose mission was to assess the situation in the Sinjar area and to develop additional humanitarian assistance options beyond current U.S. efforts there. Still another official said the mission for the 130 troops could last less than one week.
The Times also asked Secretary of State John Kerry if there "was any way to get the Yazidis off the mountain." He responded, "That is precisely what the team that he [Secretary Hagel] sent in is prepared to do. We will make a very rapid and critical assessment because we understand it is urgent to try to move those people off the mountain."
With these new advisers, Politico reports, the number of U.S. troops in Iraq rises to 900, a count that includes "previous teams of special operators and other troops."
[Image via AP]