The United Nations declared a “Level Three Emergency,” the highest possible, for Iraq on Thursday, as the advances of the Islamic State terror group remain largely unchecked. A UN representative said the new designation would “facilitate mobilisation of additional resources in goods, funds and assets to ensure a more effective response to the humanitarian needs of populations affected by forced displacements.”
The UN said that 1.2 million Iraqis have now been displaced from their homes. Only three other countries share the same “Level 3 Emergency” status: Syria, South Sudan, and Central African Republic.
Differing accounts of the current refugee situation on Mount Sinjar have surfaced, the area where tens of thousands of Yazidi and Christian minorities are believed to be under siege by the Islamic State militants.
American military advisers who went to the mountain Wednesday said they had found “far fewer” Yazidis than initial estimates. They also said that conditions had vastly improved due to food and water air-drops over the past few days, according to the Pentagon.
US State Department deputy assistant secretary Brett McGurk said via Twitter that the US had “broken the siege.” State Department spokesperson Marie Harf said in a following presser, “President said we’re going to break the siege of this mountain, and we broke the siege.”
Because of the improving humanitarian situation on Mt. Sinjar, it is believed that the US will not follow through with any planned rescue missions to the area.
US Defense officials have told Fox News’s Jennifer Griffin that the Islamic State (IS) is changing their tactics in order to react to the new US Air Force presence in the region. Jihadi fighters are said to be blending into the civilian population akin to what Hamas had been doing in Gaza in its war against Israel. It has become increasingly more difficult to precisely target the Islamic State due to their newly implemented guerilla tactics.
Lt. Gen. William Mayville Jr., director of operations with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said of the situation on the ground: “One of the things that we have seen with the [IS] forces is that where they have been in the open, they are now starting to dissipate and to hide amongst the people. The targeting in this is going to become more difficult.”