U.S. sends disaster relief team to Iraq

BY Associated Press  August 11, 2014 at 12:32 PM EDT

Staff Sgt. Daniel Leavindofske, 8th Expeditionary Air Mobility Squadron ramp team chief and Senior Airman David Babcock, air transportation journeyman, assist with loading 28,224 halal meals to a C-17 Globemaster III for a humanitarian airdrop mission over Iraq, Aug. 9, 2014. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Vernon Young Jr.

Staff Sgt. Daniel Leavindofske, 8th Expeditionary Air Mobility Squadron ramp team chief and Senior Airman David Babcock, air transportation journeyman, assist with loading 28,224 halal meals to a C-17 Globemaster III for a humanitarian airdrop mission over Iraq, Aug. 9, 2014. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Vernon Young Jr.

WASHINGTON — The U.S. is deploying a disaster response team to Iraq help distribute humanitarian aid to tens of thousands of people who have been forced from their homes in the fresh wave of violence in the country’s north.

U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Rajiv Shah said Monday the team will help speed food, water and other life-saving supplies to Iraqis.

Much of the assistance will go to thousands of members of an Iraqi religious minority group known as Yazidis who have been trapped on a mountaintop in northwest Iraq to escape certain death by Sunni militants with the Islamic State group.

Shah said the U.S. teams would help coordinate the assistance distribution among Iraqi officials, international partners and humanitarian aid agencies.