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Crisis in Iraq

Pentagon: ISIS siege on the Yazidis is over, making U.S. rescue mission 'much less likely'

The siege of Mt. Sinjar by Islamic State (ISIS) militants has been broken, allowing thousands of Yazidi refugees to escape, The New York Times reports, citing Pentagon officials. About 20 Marines and Special Operations forces spent 24 hours on the mountain to assess the situation, and they reported back that "there are far fewer Yazidis on Mt. Sinjar than previously feared," some don't want to leave, and those "who remain are in better condition than previously believed," Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said in a statement.

Kirby attributed the better-than-expected situation on Mt. Sinjar to U.S. airstrikes on ISIS fighters, efforts by Kurdish peshmerga troops, and humanitarian food and water drops. The U.S. assessment makes an international rescue mission "much less likely now," Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told reporters.

The U.S. and other countries will still continue to provide humanitarian aid to the Yadizi, and several nations — including Britain, France, and the U.S. — say they will provide arms to the Kurdish fighters. Germany has signed on to send non-lethal military assistance.