WASHINGTON, August 13, 2014 —
Though no timeline is established for the work of about 130 additional Defense Department personnel who arrived in Erbil, Iraq, yesterday to assess the situation there, rapid assessment is necessary, Pentagon spokesman Army Col. Steven Warren told reporters today.
The additional assessors will begin flowing reports to the Joint Operations Center immediately, he added.
Warren referred reporters to the department’s written statement announcing that service members from the U.S. Central Command area of operations arrived in Erbil to assess the scope of the humanitarian mission and develop additional humanitarian assistance options beyond the current airdrop effort in support of displaced Iraqi civilians trapped on Sinjar Mountain by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
“There are 129 new personnel on the ground in Erbil to assess the situation and come up with answers,” Warren said. “Part of what this assessment team is there to do is assess the conditions on the ground there to help inform our planning for future operations.”
The colonel also noted that a total of 864 U.S. service members are in Iraq in addition to about 100 troops in the Office of Security Cooperation in Baghdad.
“In Erbil, their purpose is to assess other options for humanitarian assistance,” Warren said. Assessment teams in Baghdad, he added, are evaluating the capabilities of the Iraqi security forces.
Asked of additional support for the mission in Iraq from allies, Warren said the department is “encouraged by our international partners’ willingness to join in this endeavor.”
Warren also said U.S. efforts to assist Iraq have “absolutely” had an impact.
“A combination of our resupply efforts to the [Kurdish] Peshmerga [fighters],” he said, “and our airstrikes in and around Mount Sinjar have absolutely had an impact on ISIL’s ability to place direct fire on those [internally displaced citizens] on Mount Sinjar.”
The Kurdish security forces’ activities, along with U.S. airstrikes, have slowed, if not, stopped ISIL’s ability to continue inflicting direct harm on the people who fled to the mountain to escape the ISIL terrorists, Warren said.
“We are continuing to apply pressure to the ISIL forces in the region by conducting very targeted airstrikes on their positions,” he added.
(Follow Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone Marshall on Twitter: @MarshallDoDNews)