MOSCOW, August 13 (RIA Novosti) - The United States is assessing the possibility of evacuating civilians in the mountains of northwestern Iraq that have been blocked in by Islamic State (IS) insurgents, US Secretary of State John Kerry said Wednesday.
“We will make a very rapid and critical assessment, because we understand it is urgent to try to move those people off the mountains,” Kerry said during his visit to the Solomon Islands’ capital of Honiara, as quoted by Agence France-Presse.
On Tuesday UN refugee agency UNHCR said in a statement that 20,000 to 30,000 civilians are trapped on Sinjar Mountain in northwestern Iraq, trapped by IS militants. Another 35,000 people, most of them from the Yezidi minority group, have escaped the mountain, fleeing to Iraqi Kurdistan via Syria.
Also, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Wednesday that 130 military advisers have been sent to Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq. The head of the Defense Department claimed the American servicemen will be assessing humanitarian aid volumes and carrying out additional humanitarian support for the refugees. “This is not a combat boots on the ground kind of operation,” stressed Hagel during his visit to Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton in California Wednesday.
The Islamic State is an extremist Muslim group that says it established a caliphate in Syria and Iraq in late June. The IS joined radical Iraqi Sunnis and Saddam Hussein army veterans to seize vast areas of Syria and northern Iraq. The United States has launched air strikes against the insurgents and is delivering humanitarian aid to the refugees forced to flee their homes.