Reports: Stranded Yazidi parents cutting their hands to let thirsty children drink their blood; Update: U.S. Marines, Special Forces reportedly land on Mount Sinjar

Not all Yazidis ended up on Mount Sinjar. Some of them, per the Daily Mail, journeyed through the desert (and occasionally through minefields) to shelters in Turkey and Syria.

As a Twitter buddy said, imagine how bad your situation must be if you’re fleeing to Syria.

Some 6,000 to 8,000 refugees have managed to escape to a makeshift camp in Dohuk province – but up to 30,000 still remain on Mount Sinjar in what a British aid worker has told Sky news is a “heartbreaking humanitarian crisis”…

“They’ve told us harrowing stories,” she said. “One man has just told us how he saw four children die of thirst. There was nowhere to bury them on the mountain so they just put rocks on their bodies.

“Another man was saying the children were so thirsty, their parents started cutting their own hands and giving them blood to drink.

Other Yazidis were murdered by ISIS while some face an even worse fate:

I can imagine what they have planned for the women they’ve captured but I can’t bring myself to imagine what they intend to do with the children. They’ve made money ransoming prisoners in the past. Let’s hope that’s all they have in mind. And what about that potential U.S. rescue mission that Ed blogged about this morning? Per Ben Rhodes, Obama’s still mulling it over:

“What [Obama]’s ruled out is re-introducing U.S. forces into combat on the ground in Iraq,” said White House Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes during a press conference in Martha’s Vineyard, where the President is vacationing. “But there are a variety of ways in which we can support the safe removal of those people from the mountain.”…

Rhodes said Wednesday the U.S. is looking for the best and safest way to get the trapped Yazidis off the mountain without having to engage fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). He added that Obama, who is currently on vacation on Martha’s Vineyard, will be making a decision on how to go forward after having conversations with the military.

Obama could, I suppose, send troops to evacuate the Yazidi while insisting that they’re not “combat troops” because they’re not under orders to engage the enemy, but as Noah said on Twitter, whether we engage the enemy isn’t up to us. If ISIS engages, then those troops become combat troops. Besides, the combat/non-combat distinction won’t spare O from political agita even if ISIS doesn’t engage. His critics are looking to see if he means it when he says U.S. operations against the jihadis will remain exclusively in the air; if he’s already putting boots on the ground within a week of bombing them, then obviously the “air only” rule isn’t much of a rule. That’ll make it harder to convince the public that operations will be limited going forward. I think most people will forgive him for trying to help the Yazidis even if U.S. troops come under fire, but if it turns into another Black Hawk Down, who knows?

Via the Right Scoop, here’s Ron Paul making the case that we should let the Iraqis handle ISIS … somehow. Exit question: If we’re already at the “drinking blood for sustenance” phase on the mountain, how much time realistically is left to make a move that’ll save significant numbers of lives?

Update: Well, there you go. Boots on the ground.

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