(NBC News) U.S. military officials say the conditions of Iraq’s Yazidi refugees are not as grave as first reported.
About 20 U.S. military advisors went to assess the situation on the mountain where the group is camped in northwest Iraq. They say they found those trapped doing better than initially thought, and steps taken to help them so far have been successful.
The number of refugees first estimated in the tens of thousands now appeara to be far less.
Humanitarian food and water drops are helping to keep the refugees alive, the U.S. conducted its seventh airdrop Wednesday night.
The White House considered airlifting refugees trapped on the mountain, but now U.S. officials say rescue operations are less likely.
“You look at different ways to move people who are in a very dangerous place on that mountain to a safer position. And that’s exactly what our team is doing on the ground now in Iraq,” said Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes.
Yazidis’ relatives fear there is no safe way out. “They cannot move freely like in long convoys, like with 60, 70 vehicles as usual,” said Haider Elias, Yazidi Living in Texas.
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