Transcript for Ethnic Yazidis Stranded On Mountain After ISIS Targets Religious Minorities
You can. Fleeing their homes and ethnic minority in Iraq trying to find refuge from the extremist Sunni militants. I aces who are gaining control now of key area. Right now the international hot -- Iraq. Michelle Franzen in New York -- that was eighty ethnic and religious group has fewer than 600000. People in Iraq. And now they have become a target of the group that calls itself the Islamic state of Iraq and Syria. Ethnic -- the eighties are now trapped in the mountains waiting to be rescued. But now ice has has blocked off all access to the area and reports today that ice -- has taken over the damn near Mosul. If -- destroys that -- the city could be under fifteen feet of water. The BBC's Mike -- -- has more on the advance of vices and the flight of ethnic -- CD's we're now trapped without food and water. According to this amateur footage these volumes CDs taking to the parents in John mountains to escape the Islamic state fighters. After the militants would see -- minority community strong vote. The follows that -- ancient religious sect made the journey knowing they would likely to find themselves stranded with -- nothing to survive. I didn't quite gotten a shot this woman says we in our children ran away to save on lives and left everything behind. We prefer to die he tells us who made this woman says it's not easy change just think it's that it isn't just -- This is a desperate situation particular institution. We know for sure that 4402. -- have already died that's the numbers we can confirm that it's probably much more than that they've got no food no water. -- medical supplies. It the UN says some people have been extra tape from the mountains in the past -- for -- What's happened in the area is the UN says the tragedy of immense proportions. These other against the teams who had to flee from the Thomas and job after the -- state fund has attacked him. The reprieve is -- -- -- the militants regardless heretical. Condit that they component to install. The forcing until -- -- CDs and similar new pressure today on thousands of Christians living in the same region. -- setbacks for the Kurdish forces who have been trying to protect the north of he and they trained volunteers to join them in their efforts to push back the militants in this intensification. Of the battle for Iraq. Mike wooldridge BBC didn't. The situation for the -- the -- now extremely dire the US is considering. Humanitarian airdrops over the mountains where -- CDs are hiding ABC's Jonathan Karl -- white house Press Secretary. Josh Earnest about the humanitarian crisis in a -- just a few short minutes ago at the White House briefing let's take a listen. I wanna -- it back to Iraq and its terminology here you said that. The president would acts for a core American objective. And in America's interest. We've now -- a situation we've had a series of Christian towns. That have been effectively ethnically cleansed. And place a situation where at or religious minorities. Have been given a choice of -- slaughter. Or leave or converts to Islam. Is preventing. The kind of humanitarian catastrophe. Which you said. Appears to be. -- hand. A core American object. Well there are times where the president has taken military action. Sometimes in concert with our allies. To protect. Innocent vulnerable civilian populations. From slaughter or other dire humanitarian situations. That occurred in Libya -- -- -- where. Qaddafi -- army was. Speeding toward Ben -- promising to carry out. The slaughter innocent civilians. When presented with that information the president did order military action. We evaluate each of these circumstances on a case by case basis each of them is different each of them has their own. Potential. Consequences. And unique set of complications. We have been very clear about -- How disturbing we find this dire humanitarian situation that exists in Iraq right now. We are seeing Christians being persecuted because their religious beliefs. We're seeing -- CDs. Be persecuted. Because of their religious and ethnic. Identity. There is one particular situation that we are concerned about there is -- Melton. Near -- -- where there are reports that thousands of UCDs are currently trapped under a mountain have been for a couple of days now. They are unable to access food and water they don't have any access to shelter. And they are they have fled persecution. And and efforts to leave the mountain or blocked. By -- forces who are -- to killed. That is -- this is a terrible. Humanitarian situation in one that is of great concern here to the United States. Social me just get back to my my question. Without without that I understand that historic context of Libya and all but specifically this preventing. Ethnic religious cleansing of that type you have just described is that core American troops preventing that kind of slaughter. Ethnic religious based slaughter. In America -- that is something that we evaluate on it on a case by case basis clearly this kind of there have been situations again to to go back to history here. There have been situations where this kind of ethnic slaughter and cleansing can have a very destabilizing impact on a broader region. And that is how that is one way in which a humanitarian situation. I'm could have. Broader. Implications for not just a country where this is occurring. But for the countries in the region -- in other countries around the globe. So I'm not in a position to further described characterize this situation beyond. Pointing out how deeply disturbing it is. But it is something that we are closely. Monitor it Joshua Levy spent about two months since -- took over Mosul. There were so a lot of talk here about preparations for potential military action which did not happen. -- in the inner city two months -- has taken over more territory in Iraq. It's taken over more border crossings. Of the Syrian border it's taken -- -- Major oil refinery is now taken over the largest dam in Iraq giving it. You know control over over vast areas of electricity and what is the United States doing about this what what what where is the American leadership on this. Well John the thing that's important again and it's important for all your viewers understand this that there are no military solutions. To be very difficult problems that exist in Iraq now. Dean the American people cannot solve this problem for the Iraqi People. The only solution that exists is Iraqi political solution that was true six weeks ago and it's true today. And that's why that's that's why -- the United States stands ready to support the Iraqi Government and the Iraqi People. Win and inclusive. Iraqi Government is formed. But -- the Iraqi and Kurdish forces have been over wrong quite easily it seems bias is not what I understand the point you have made there's no American military solution. What is that -- keep -- the United States tolerate. A terrorist group a terrorist group linked to al-Qaeda. Having control over a vast area of Iraq and of Syria and access to resource -- that we've never seen a terrorist group access to. Oil financial military resources. This is that's why this -- the Iraqi and Kurdish forces have been over wrong quite easily it seems biases and I want to understand. The point you have made there's no American military solution. What is the keep -- the State's tolerate. Well the president has not demonstrated any sort of unwillingness to act when necessary. To counter. Terror threats that may pose. A significant risk to American personnel. Or American interest or even the American homeland is -- threat. Well again John I'm not a position to offer that kind of assessment from here but this is situation that we're looking at very closely. That this is situation that American. -- members of the military are on the ground reviewing very closely. What is. Most important about the situation is that this is a complicated problem that exists right now in Iraq. And if we want to confront this problem what we need is we need for Iraqis Iraq's political leadership to step forward. Put in place. The kind of reforms that would allow for the creation of an inclusive government. That would unify the people of Iraq. And unify Iraq's security forces to confront this threat after a this is a threat right now that is an existential threat to the people of Iraq. And that's why the United States stands ready to support the people of Iraq in an inclusive government of Iraq to defeat this threat posed by. ABC's Jonathan Karl there are questioning white house Press Secretary Josh Earnest about the humanitarian crisis in Iraq. You can keep up with this developing story and real time by downloading the ABC news -- And star in this story for exclusive updates on the go you've been watching international hot spot I'm Michelle Franzen in New York.
This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.