After President Barack Obama authorized military assistance on the evening of August 7, Iraq will be getting more support from the U.S. In fact, assistance occurred the next day. Airstrikes targeted a truck towing artillery near the city of Erbil where U.S. personnel is reported to be stationed. Airdrops of humanitarian aid were also delivered to mountainous regions near Sinjar. Thousands of civilians have sought refuge from the militant group Islamic State (IS), formerly known as Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS.
According to a report on FOX News website, Rear Admiral John Kirby of The Pentagon stated two U.S. fighter jets dropped 500 pound bombs on a load of artillery and a truck hauling the material. The artillery was being used against Kurdish forces in the city of Erbil. According to the report, President Obama had authorized the use of military aid “if necessary” and only for “targeted strikes” in order to prevent a possible genocide from IS.
In a report by Dion Nissenbaum of The Wall Street Journal, IS militants had seized cities in Iraq which were known to be safe, and recently took over the Mosul Dam. The Mosul Dam not only controls an enormous amount of electricity, but if destroyed, the dam could flood major nearby cities, including Baghdad.
Nissenbaum reported Washington D.C. had originally put off sending more military assistance in Iraq to “pressure Iraqi lawmakers to form a new government” which addresses IS militants. Instead, however, U.S. officials had received a formal request for assistance, but did not confirm if it was from Kurdish officials located in Erbil and Baghdad, or from the Iraqi central government.
Iraq is getting more support from the U.S. and this may be due to IS taking over cities which are predominantly Christian. Mariano Castillo of CNN stated in a report that many people from Mosul had fled to Qaraqosh to seek refuge. At that time, IS militants had given Christians in Mosul an ultimatum. If they did not convert to Islam, then they had to choose between paying a fine or “death by the sword.” Castillo stated three other villages had also been attacked, including Bartell and Tall Kayf which are also mostly Christian.
Castillo reported the French government confirmed the city of Qaraqosh had also been overtaken by militants. According to the French foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, “horrible acts of violence” took place.” Thus, France requested an emergency meeting with the Security Council of the U.N. to discuss the matter in Iraq.
Nick Mladenov is a special representative for the U.N. Secretary-General in Iraq. He was reported as condemning the attacks not only against Christians, but also against Shia Muslims and Yazidis. In fact, humanitarian aid delivered by the U.S. to mountains near Sinjar are in response to these attempted militant takeovers.
Estimates by U.N. groups report around 40,000 Yazidis have sought refuge in these mountainous areas which contain no food or water. About 40 refugee children have already died according to a separate report from The Wall Street Journal.
IS militants have been bombarding cities throughout Iraq in hopes of gaining power and control. The Iraqi government has made attempts to combat such takeovers, but according to reports, may have also called upon the U.S. for military assistance. Because IS militants are targeting areas containing U.S. personnel, President Obama has authorized limited military aid in Iraq, including “targeted airstrikes.” Iraq is getting more support from the U.S., but President Obama has stated he does not intend to send ground troops.
By Liz Pimentel