US airstrikes authorised against Islamist militants

Cordon Press

President Obama has given permission for targeted airstrikes to be used against Islamist militants threatening minority communities in Iraq.

The airstrikes could complement a US airborne relief campaign which is already underway, aiming to bring aid to thousands of Iraqis trapped on mountainsides in the north of the country.

Obama and his administration believe that the violence being perpetrated by ISIS militants against religious and ethnic minorities in the country could potentially develop into genocide.

President Obama said:“When we face a situation like we do on that mountain, with innocent people facing the prospect of violence on a horrific scale and we have a mandate to help – in this case a request from the Iraqi government – and when we have unique capabilities to act to avoid a massacre, I believe the United States cannot turn a blind eye.”

The decision comes after crisis talks were held on how best to respond to the escalating crisis in the region as the militant group ISIS moves closer and closer to the previously stable region of Kurdistan in Northern Iraq

Up to now, the US has been helping the Iraqi government conduct their own airdrops. Over 40,000 Iraqis, mostly minorities, have been trapped in northwestern Iraq and are in desperate need of vital supplies.

The president went on to say: “In recent days Yazidi women, men and children from the region of Sinjar have fled for their lives.

“Thousands, perhaps tens of thousands are now hiding high up the mountain with little but the clothes on their backs, they are without food, they are without water. People are starving, children are dying of thirst. Meanwhile ISIS forces below have called for the systematic destruction of the Yazidi people, which would constitute genocide.”

The UN estimates that up to 200,000 refugees could have been displaced in the latest bout of conflict. Ethnic Yazidis, Christians and Turkmen are fleeing for their lives whilst fundamentalist forces follow. The Kurdish forces will have difficulty in resisting the onslaught, without support from the United States. 

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