The Associated Press is reporting that an Iraqi helicopter delivering aid to hundreds of Yazidis that are trapped at the top of the Sinjar mountains crashed on Tuesday.
Iraqi military spokesman Lt. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi told state television that the Mi-17 helicopter had likely crashed because there were too many people on board.
The helicopter delivered aid to the people stranded in Sinjar and too many people boarded it and it hit the mountain during takeoff.
The pilot has died and injuries include Vian Dakheelm, a Yazidi parliamentarian, Alissa J. Rubin, a war reporter for The New York Times and Adam Ferguson, a freelance photographer who was in Iraq on an assignment for the newspaper.
Alissa J. Rubin, 56, The Times’s Paris bureau chief and a longtime war correspondent, apparently suffered a concussion, at least one broken wrist and possibly some broken ribs but was conscious. Adam Ferguson, 35, a freelance photographer working for The Times who was accompanying Ms. Rubin, said via cellphone text that he suffered a sore jaw and some minor bumps."
Since the Islamic State captured the city of Sinjar in northern Iraq, thousands of Yazidis, a Christian minority sect, fled the city, many winding up stranded on top of a mountain. According to the United Nations, as many as 30,000 Yazidis may still be trapped as Islamic State forces continue to sweep through northern Iraq.
The United States carried out a series of humanitarian airdrops over the weekend, which were accompanied by several targeted airstrikes against the Islamic State. President Obama has said the U.S. mission in Iraq could take months to complete.
Yesterday, Obama stressed America's continued commitment to the Yazidi people.
"Our aircraft remain positioned to strike any terrorist forces around the mountain who threaten the safety of these families," he told the press from the island of Martha's Vineyard where he is vacationing with his family. "The only lasting solution is for Iraqis to come together and form an inclusive government," he added.
Obama, who removed all U.S. combat troops from Iraq in 2011 has repeatedly stressed that there is no American military solution to the problems in Iraq.
Earlier today, Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel opened the door to the possibility of expanding U.S. military assistance to the Iraqi government should they accept the nomination of Haider al-Abadi to succeed current Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Malik, The New York Times reported.
The Pentagon continues to send arms to the Kurdish peshmerga forces who are fighting to maintain control of the city of Erbil where the U.S. has a consulate.