published Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

Hagel: Far fewer Iraqi refugees now on Sinjar Mountain

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, left, shakes hands with Camp Pendleton Marines after bringing them up to date on the situation in Iraq and Afghanistan on Aug. 12, 2014.
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, left, shakes hands with Camp Pendleton Marines after bringing them up to date on the situation in Iraq and Afghanistan on Aug. 12, 2014.
Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says far fewer refugees are stranded on Iraq's Sinjar Mountain and that it's far less likely that the U.S. will undertake a rescue mission there.

Speaking to reporters after returning to the Washington area Wednesday night, Hagel said airdrops of food and water had sustained the refugees and that airstrikes on Islamic State militants had allowed many of them to escape.

However, Hagel says the U.S. effort in Iraq is not over and that it remains a troubled country.

U.S. officials say only several thousand Iraqi refugees remain on Sinjar Mountain. That's far fewer than the tens of thousands that were reported there last week.

Hagel says those on the mountain are in relatively good condition.

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