US troops meet refugees on besieged Iraq mountain: Pentagon
Published on Aug 14, 2014 6:32 AM
WASHINGTON (AFP) - A small party of US troops was flown onto Mount Sinjar in northern Iraq on Wednesday for the first time to assess the situation of thousands of civilian refugees besieged by Islamist militants, the Pentagon said.
A US military official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told AFP that the special forces soldiers had returned safely to base. "They had contacts with the refugees. They went back to Arbil," he said.
The United States has a consulate and other facilities in Arbil, the capital of Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region, and earlier Wednesday had deployed around 130 troops on an assessment mission.
Militants from the so-called Islamic State, a jihadist group that controls a large swathe of northern Iraq and eastern Syria, has attacked the region's Yazidi religious minority and threatened to march on the city.
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