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More than 100 U.S. advisers headed to Northern Iraq as airstrikes continue

Stream of humanity. Yazidis who fled ISIS to Syria crossed the Peshkhabor Bridge on foot to Iraqi Kurdistan Tuesday, August 12, 2014.

Stream of humanity. Yazidis who fled ISIS to Syria crossed the Peshkhabor Bridge on foot to Iraqi Kurdistan Tuesday, August 12, 2014.

FAYSH KHABUR, Iraq (CNN) — More than 100 additional U.S. military advisers are being sent to northern Iraq to look at humanitarian relief options for the tens of thousands of minority Yazidis who fled the advance of ISIS fighters, U.S. officials told CNN on Tuesday.

This after news that an Iraqi helicopter being used to bring aid to trapped Yazidis on Mount Sinjar crashed Tuesday.

The military cited “technical failure” in the crash of the MI-17.

The office of the Kurdish regional government’s prime minister said the pilot died.

The survivors were evacuated by the Kurdistan Regional Government, al-Iraqiya reported. Among them was Vian Dakhil, the only Yazidi in parliament.

Last week, Dakhil appealed to the government for help in stopping the slaughter of her people.

New York Times journalist Alissa Rubin was on the flight. She is suffering an apparent concussion and broken wrists, but is conscious, the Times reported. Freelance photographer Adam Ferguson, also working for the Times, said he was not injured, the paper said.

At least four helicopters were being used to reach the desperate families who fled into the mountains more than a week ago to escape ISIS, the Islamic extremist group that’s carrying out a campaign of terror and ethnic cleansing.

U.S. airstrikes against ISIS in northern Iraq have helped Iraqi troops and Kurdistan’s peshmerga fighters to carry out the missions. Kurdistan is a part of northern Iraq controlled by Kurds.

U.S. strikes ISIS mortar position

On Tuesday, the U.S. military “successfully” conducted a strike against an ISIS mortar position north of Sinjar, the military’s Central Command said. ISIS had been firing on Kurdish forces that were defending Yazidis who were trying to flee the area, Central Command said.

The Obama administration is considering whether to send more military advisers to Iraq, a U.S. official said. The administration also is looking to boost the capabilities of Kurdish forces.

Consideration is being given to sending as many as 75 more U.S. military personnel, a second U.S. military official told CNN.

Yazidis who escaped trickle back in

Hundreds of Yazidis managed to make it on foot down from Mount Sinjar, northward into Syria, in a region controlled by Kurds. They managed to trek along the border to a crossing point back into Iraq, where a CNN crew saw some arrive Tuesday.

“If you’re running for your life, you’ll do it. You have no other choice,” one elderly man told CNN in describing how he made it with his wife, children and grandchildren.

Aid organizations and representatives of the Kurdistan regional government met some of the arrivals with sandwiches and bottles of water.

A U.N. affiliate had buses transporting some people into town. But most of those arriving will have to figure out where to go on their own — and some told CNN they planned to camp out along the river at the crossing point into Iraq.

Deadly car bombs in Baghdad

Meanwhile, at least nine people were killed and dozens were wounded in two car bombings Tuesday in Baghdad, police said.

One took place near an outdoor market in the Zafaraniya neighborhood. The other was in a high-traffic area near the Abdul Hamid hospital in Baghdad’s central Karrada district.

U.S. pushes new PM-designate

The United States hopes the newly designated Prime Minister will form a Cabinet quickly and build a united front against ISIS rebels, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Tuesday.

The nomination Monday of Haider al-Abadi to replace Nuri al-Maliki as Prime Minister offers al-Abadi the chance to form a new government over the next 30 days before he can formally take office.

“We urge him to form a new Cabinet as urgently as possible, and the U.S. does stand ready to fully support a new and inclusive Iraqi government,” Kerry told reporters at a news conference in Sydney, Australia, emphasizing the threat posed by ISIS.

But the process may be complicated by al-Maliki, who has vowed to hang on to power.

In an indication that al-Maliki wouldn’t go quietly, he appeared Monday with mostly junior members of his party who announced that they would contest the decision to nominate al-Abadi in court.

The new Prime Minister-designate is the deputy speaker of the Iraqi Parliament and a former aide to al-Maliki.

Iraqi President Fuad Masum nominated al-Abadi, a prominent Shiite politician, for the job Monday despite al-Maliki’s pronouncement earlier in the day that he intends to stay in office for a third term.

Kerry reiterated Tuesday that the United States will not send ground troops back into battle in Iraq.

“This is a fight that Iraqis need to join on behalf of Iraq,” he said.

CNN’s Ivan Watson reported from Faysh Khabur, Iraq; Jason Hanna and Josh Levs reported from Atlanta; Barbara Starr, Hamdi Alkhshali, Gul Tuysuz and Nick Paton Walsh contributed to this report.

 

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