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Sunday, 17 August 2014

US Airstrikes Pound ISIS Militants Firing At Iraqi Yadizis

American warplanes pounded extremist Sunni fighters in northern Iraq on Saturday in what officials described as an effort to defend minority Yazidis being indiscriminately attacked, strikes that came just as President Barack Obama warned of an extended air campaign against the terror group.

The series of airstrikes began with a mix of fighter jets and drones that targeted militants firing on Yazidis near the town of Sinjar, where fighters with the Islamic State, formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, forced tens of thousands into hiding on nearby Sinjar Mountain.
The airstrikes were the first in the Sinjar area since Obama authorized targeted attacks to protect Americans and Iraqi minorities from an ISIS advance threatening the Kurdish regional capital of Irbil.
ALSO READ: Special Report: Who Are The Yazidis, And Why Does ISIS Want To Kill Them? (PHOTOS)
Given that Iraqi security forces still need time to ramp up and Iraqi politicians need space to form to form a more inclusive government to whittle Sunni support for ISIS, this is going to be a long-term project, Obama said from the White House South Lawn.
The airstrikes on Saturday began at about 11:20 a.m. ET, with the targeting of two ISIS armored personnel carriers (APCs) firing on Yazidis, according to a statement released by the U.S. Central Command. Another two rounds of airstrikes were carried out about 20 minutes later after more ISIS vehicles, primarily APCs, moved into the area, the statement said.
A fourth round of airstrikes was carried out more than three hours later when U.S. aircraft struck another ISIS armored vehicle, it said.
At the same time, health and civil defense officials said U.S. warplanes targeted ISIS fighters near the town of Makhmur, where the group has been launching attacks on the outskirts of Irbil.
The Pentagon declined to comment on the claims by Iraqi health and civil defense officials in Mosul, who told CNN the airstrikes killed at least 16 of the fighters.
Running out of time
Meanwhile, the UK and France has said it will join the United States in humanitarian airdrops for hundreds of thousands of Iraqis on the run ahead of a brutal ISIS advance.
On Saturday, the United States carried out another round of airdrops. Three cargo aircraft supported by U.S. fighter jets dropped 3,804 gallons of fresh drinking water and 16,128 ready-to-eat meals, the military said.
But a United Nations official said airstrikes and humanitarian airdrops arent enough for the estimated 40,000 minority Yazidis, who are trapped on Mount Sinjar and hiding from ISIS fighters who have said they will kill the group.
Only about 100 to 150 people a day have been able to be airlifted by Iraqi security forces off the mountain, said Marizio Babille of UNICEF.
We are running out of time for thousands who can obviously not be reached by these airdrops, he said, adding that UNICEF is appealing for the international support to open and secure a humanitarian corridor over land.
Dozens, including 60 children, according to UNICEF have died on the mountain where the Yazidis are battling extreme temperatures and a lack of food and water.
American planes also have twice dropped food and other supplies to thousands of Yazidis, members of a minority group that fled to a northern Iraqi mountain after ISIS militants overran their town, Obama said Saturday.
U.S. aircraft are poised to strike ISIS militants who have surrounded the mountain, Obama said. Any such strikes would support Kurdish forces efforts to free the Yazidis, he said.
The airstrikes have ramped up Americas involvement in Iraq where ISIS is seizing control of towns and key infrastructure even as it celebrates its own slaughter along the way.
The United States has hundreds of military personnel in Iraq, including advisers sent in recent weeks to coordinate with Iraqi and Kurdish military officials in response to the ISIS rampage. The USS George H.W. Bush and other Navy ships also are in the region.
Obama indicated Saturday the United States interests in targeting ISIS went well beyond protecting U.S. personnel and Iraqi minorities.
My team has been vigilant about foreign fighters and jihadists gathering in Syria and now Iraq, who might potentially launch attacks outside of the region against Western targets and U.S. targets, he said. So theres going to be a counterterrorism element that we are already preparing for and have been working diligently on for a long time now.
SLIDESHOW: Who Are The YadizisA Yazidi woman (Photo Credit: Evangelical Movement of Wales)A Yazidi boy in their summecamp. (Photo Credit: Jesper’s Blog)An Iraqi Yazidi mother who fled the violence in the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar, sits with her children at a school where they are taking shelter in the Kurdish city of Dohuk in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region, on August 5, 2014 (Photo Credit: Safin Hamed/AFP/Getty Images)Yazidis celebrate New Year in Iraq (Photo Credit: Al Jazeera)Yazidi worshippers engaging in a prayer ceremony during Eid al-Jamma. (Photo Credit: Business Insider)Here, Yazidis pay their respects within the Lalish temple. The Yazidis were victims of the worst terror attack of last decade’s Iraq War, when suicide bombings killed more than 400 Yazidis in 2007. (Photo Credit: Business Insider)Yazidis girls fleeing from the violent sect, ISIS.Displaced families from the minority Yazidi sect, fleeing the violence, walk on the outskirts of Sinjar, west of Mosul (Photo Credit: Reuters)Displaced Iraqis from the Yazidi community arrive to the camp of Bajid Kandala at Feeshkhabour town near the Syria-Iraq border, in Iraq Saturday, Aug. 9, 2014. The displacement of at least tens of thousands of Yazidis- Kurdish speakers of an ancient Mesopotamian faith – means yet another Iraqi minority has been peeled away as extremists continue their sweep of Iraq, seizing territory they brutally administer. The Islamic State group fighters already caused the expulsion of Iraqs Christians, (Photo Credit: AP)Displaced Iraqis from the Yazidi community arrive to the camp of Bajid Kandala at Feeshkhabour town near the Syria-Iraq border, in Iraq Saturday, Aug. 9, 2014. The displacement of at least tens of thousands of Yazidis- Kurdish speakers of an ancient Mesopotamian faith – means yet another Iraqi minority has been peeled away as extremists continue their sweep of Iraq, seizing territory they brutally administer. The Islamic State group fighters already caused the expulsion of Iraqs Christians, (Photo Credit: AP)Yazidi women who fled violence in the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar sit at a school where they are taking shelter in Dohuk on August 5, 2014. (Photo Credit: SAFIN HAMED/AFP/Getty Images)A displaced family from the minority Yazidi sect flees the violence in Sinjar, Iraq, west of Mosul, on Tuesday. Tens of thousands fled the weekend assault on Sinjar and are now surrounded, according to witnesses and the United Nations.(Photo Credit: Reuters/Landov)Iraqi Yazidis flee from Sinjar due to attacks of army groups led by Islamic State (IS) to Lalesh enshrined Kurdish city of Dohuk, Iraq on August 5, 2014. (Photo Credit: Hamit Huseyin/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)Displaced families from the minority Yazidi sect, fleeing the violence in the Iraqi town of Sinjarl west of Mosul, take refuge at Dohuk province on August 4, 2014 (Photo Credit: Reuters)Members of the minority Yazidi sect walk towards the Syrian border as they flee violence from forces loyal to the Islamic State, August 10, 2014. Thousands from the group have left their homes to seek safety. (Photo Credit: Rodi Said / Reuters)A Yazidi family that fled violence in northern Iraq sits at at a school where they are taking shelter in the Kurdish city of Dohuk on August 5, 2014. (Photo Credit: SAFIN HAMED/AFP/Getty Images)A displaced Iraqi Christian woman holds a picture of her four-year-old relative, David, who was killed by militants. (Photo Credit: US News)Iraqi Christians who fled the violence in the village of Qaraqush, about 30 kilometres east of the northern province of Nineveh, rest upon their arrival at the Saint-Joseph church in the Kurdish city of Arbil, in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region, on August 7, 2014. Gunmen from the Sunni Muslim Islamic State (IS) seized Qaraqush, Iraq’s largest Christian town, and several others near Mosul following the withdrawal of Kurdish peshmerga fighters, inhabitants said. (Photo Credit: SAFIN HAMED/AFP/Getty Images)An Iraqi Yazidi woman who fled the violence in the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar, cries as she stands among others at a school where they are taking shelter in the Kurdish city of Dohuk in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region, on August 5, 2014. Islamic State (IS) Sunni jihadists ousted the Peshmerga troops of Iraq’s Kurdish government from the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar, forcing thousands of people from their homes. The Yazidis, are a small community that follows a 4,000-year-old faith and have been repeatedly targeted by jihadists who call them “devil-worshipers” because of their unique beliefs and practices. (Photo Credit: SAFIN HAMED/AFP/Getty Images)Iraqi Turkman Shiite children displaced from the northern Iraqi area of Tal Afar take shelter in a school in Sadr City, one of Baghdad’s northern Shiite-majority districts, on August 5, 2014 after fleeing fighting between the Islamic State (IS) militants and Kurdish forces in both Tal Afar and later in Sinjar. Baghdad’s air force and Kurdish fighters from Syria joined forces with Iraq’s embattled peshmerga to push back jihadists whose latest attacks sent thousands of civilians running for their lives. (Photo Credit: AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images)Yazidi families adapt to the difficult circumstances at the construction site. (Photo Credit: Ahmad Al-Rubaye / AFP / Getty Images)A scene inside the building under construction where the Yazidis have taken refuge. (Photo Credit: Ahmad Al-Rubaye / AFP / Getty Images)A U.S. flag waves while displaced Iraqis from the Yazidi community cross into Syria. (Photo Credit: Khalid Mohammed / AP)Yazidis fleeing violence ride in the back of a truck toward the Syrian border. (Photo Credit: Rodi Said / Reuters)Young Yazidis sit in the trunk of a car. Iraqi officials say that hundreds of members of the sect have been killed by forces loyal to Islamic state. (Photo Credit: Rodi Said / Reuters)
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