The United States is making headway in aiding the Yazidi refugees trapped on Mount Sinjar in Iraq who have been under siege by Islamic militants, U.S. Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James told MSNBC's "Morning Joe."
James said the humanitarian effort has provided needed food and water to the refugees, and U.S. airstrikes on the terrorist group ISIS have allowed Yazidis to travel to safety.
She said the U.S. forces were preparing for an extended operation in Iraq.
"[President Barack Obama] has said that this is not likely to be a short-term operation. And there is no deadline," she said.
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"We and the U.S. Air Force ... have been able to deliver more than 100,000 meals ready to eat, as well as over 27,000 gallons of fresh water. And the limited airstrikes have allowed some of the Yazidis, who have been trapped on Mount Sinjar, to get off of that mountain. So this is all good news," James said Thursday.
The aircraft transporting the vital supplies are coming from the United States, Europe, and "elsewhere in the area of responsibility," James said,.
There are a "number of people who are writing contingency option plans" on what the military's "next steps" would be, James said.
James was in New York to pay tribute to the 22,000 Air Force personnel who either work in New York or call the state home. Her trip includes visits to Gabreski Air National Guard Base and Rome Laboratory in New York, which James called the "centerpiece for our Air Force cybersecurity, and the future of command and control and communications."
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