It’s rare to hear good news out of Iraq (or pretty much anywhere) these days, but we got a bit of it on Wednesday night. Just hours after White House officials said the U.S. was considering sending troops to evacuate the Yazidis trapped on Iraq’s Mount Sinjar, the Pentagon said a rescue operation wouldn’t be necessary. About a dozen Marines and Special Operations forces landed on the mountain on Wednesday to assess the situation, and according to a Pentagon statement, there were “far fewer” refugees than they expected, and they “are in better condition than previously believed.”
Rear Admiral John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, said that American air strikes and efforts by Kurdish peshmerga fighters allowed “thousands of Yazidis to evacuate from the mountain each night over the last several days,” escaping the ISIS militants who drove them from their homes. Tens of thousands of Yazidis had been trapped on the mountain for days, and administration officials told the New York Times that only a few thousand remain. “President said we’re going to break the siege of this mountain, and we broke that siege,” said State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf.