Kerry: US assessing options to help trapped civilians in Iraq

Secretary of State John Kerry said Wednesday that the U.S. will make a "rapid and critical assessment" of whether it could perform a rescue operation for thousands of members of the Yazidi religious sect stranded on a mountain in Iraq.

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Kerry was asked during an appearance in the Solomon Islands whether there was anything the United States could do to help Yazidis who have fled Islamic State in Iraq and Syria fighters only to be stranded on a mountain.

"Well, that's exactly what we're assessing," Kerry responded. "This is precisely what the team that [President Obama] sent in is prepared to do. We will make a very rapid and critical assessment, because we understand it's urgent to try and move those people off the mountain. And I hope we can have more to report in short order."

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced on Tuesday that 130 U.S. troops had arrived in northern Iraq to assess humanitarian relief options.

The Yazidis are trapped on the mountain due to the expansion of the extremist group ISIS across the surrounding territory. The U.S. has already launched air strikes against ISIS and dropped food and water on the mountain.