ROTTERDAM, August 14 -- Americans land in Sinjar Mountains under cover of darkness and say the situation was not as bad as feared.
A US mission to evacuate Iraqi civilians trapped on a mountain by the Islamic State group is far less likely after a US assessment team sent there found the humanitarian situation was not as bad as feared, the Pentagon said. A team of US military and humanitarian aid personnel, who flew to the Sinjar Mountains in northern Iraq under cover of darkness to assess the situation of thousand of members of the Yazidi religious minority, found far fewer people and in better condition than expected, the Pentagon said in a statement.
"Based on this assessment," the Pentagon said, "an evacuation mission is far less likely."
The Pentagon credited the better-than-expected situation on air drops of food and water, US airstrikes on Islamic State group targets, efforts of Kurdish Peshmerga fighters and the ability of thousands of Yazidis to evacuate the mountain in recent nights. The White House said earlier the United States had not ruled out using American ground forces in an operation to extract the trapped civilians, but added the troops would not engage in combat. The team of fewer than 20 US personnel flew early on Wednesday morning to the mountains, a defence official told Al Jazeera, before returning safely to the Iraqi Kurdistan capital of Erbil by military air transport.
The United States has 130 military personnel in Erbil.
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