U.S. forces land on Iraq mountain to plan rescue

Aug 13, 2014 6:04 PM by NBC News

U.S. Special Operations forces in northern Iraq landed on top of the Sinjar Mountains Wednesday to assess the possibility of a humanitarian mission to rescue the Yazidi refugees under threat of Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) militants, U.S. officials told NBC News.

According to the officials, U.S. forces were there only to make an assessment of how best to carry out any rescue mission. The special ops team was back in Erbil Wednesday night.The information they gathered over a brief period of time will be used to make plans and recommendations on how best to safely carry out the mission. Those recommendations will then be forwarded to the Pentagon and White House for approval "within days," the officials said.

In addition, sources tell NBC News that U.S. air operations and airstrikes over the past few days have "cleared ISIS fighters" from most areas at the base of the mountains, greatly reducing the threat to the refugees and any potential rescue operation.

U.S. military forces continued to engage ISIS terrorists in Iraq on Wednesday, successfully conducting an airstrike on positions west of the village of Sinjar, officials said.


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