The United States has sent more security advisers to Iraq to rescue thousands of Yazidis trapped in the mountains by extremists who threatened to kill them.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said around 130 Marines and special operations forces were already sent to Irbil, Iraq, in addition to about 250 security advisers helping the Iraqi army to fight against the Islamic State, formally known as Islamic State of Iraq and Syria or ISIS, CNN reported.
“Very specifically, this is not a combat boots on the ground operation. We are not going to have that kind of operation,” Hagel said in his address at Camp Pendleton, California. “But short of that, there are some things we can continue to do and we are doing.”
Assessment teams are already in Irbil and would “give more in-depth assessment of where we can continue to help,” he said.
The U.S. government will explore more ways to support and help the Iraqi government and the people affected by the ongoing clash in Sinjar, and to prevent “potential acts of genocide” by the ISIS, BBC reported.
The United Nations said tens of thousands of Iraqis, majority of whom are Yazidis, one of the world’s smallest and oldest sects, are trapped in the Sinjar mountain and in need of “life-saving assistance.”
Christians, Kurds and members of other ethnic minorities in Iraq are also fleeing the area attacked by the ISIS fighters.
At least a million people have already been displaced by the fight, the U.N. said.
The Iraq government has become powerless to contain the terrorist group because of the political infighting for months.