POLITICS

Ground Troops Arrive In Iraq To Assess Plan To Help Save Refugees (UPDATE)

President Barack Obama speaks about developments in Iraq, Monday, Aug. 11, 2014, in Chilmark, Mass., during his family vacati
President Barack Obama speaks about developments in Iraq, Monday, Aug. 11, 2014, in Chilmark, Mass., during his family vacation on the island of Martha's Vineyard. Obama welcomed new leadership in Iraq as "a promising step forward" Monday amid a political and security crisis in Baghdad, saying the only lasting solution is the formation of an inclusive government. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

UPDATE: Aug. 13, 5:52 p.m. -- CNN and CBS report a small group of special forces flew into Mt. Sinjar in black hawk helicopters, and departed after spending 24 hours there assessing the situation.

UPDATE: Aug. 13, 4:04 p.m. -- The Guardian and ABC News report a team of U.S. Marines and special forces have landed on Mt. Sinjar to assess the military situation and the potential for a civilian evacuation route.

Read more at The Guardian.

Previously:

Ben Rhodes, President Barack Obama's deputy national security adviser, told reporters Wednesday the U.S. would consider using ground troops in Iraq to help rescue thousands of Yazidi refugees trapped on a mountain, the New York Times reports.

The AP reported earlier that Obama is considering a few military options to help the refugees, who attempted to flee Iraq to avoid the Islamic State, the militant group formerly known as ISIS.

"There needs to be a lasting solution that gets that population to a safe space where they can receive more permanent assistance," Rhodes told reporters in Martha's Vineyard, where Obama is currently on vacation.

Rhodes reiterated that the president has ruled out "reintroducing U.S. forces into combat on the ground in Iraq," but insisted the deployment of troops to aid in the rescue of refugees would be "different than reintroducing U.S. forces in a combat role."

A U.S. military-led rescue mission on Sinjar Mountain would almost certainly put American troops in harm's way. But Rhodes insisted that their mission would be strictly a humanitarian rescue and would not constitute a return to combat.

"We don't believe that involves U.S. troops re-entering a combat role in Iraq," he said. "It involves frankly a very difficult logistical challenge of moving folks who are in danger on that mountain into a safer position."

Rhodes also suggested the U.S. would undertake a rescue mission with help from allies, including Kurdish forces that are receiving arms from the U.S., and the British.

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