Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

US Aids Displaced Iraqis as Airstrikes Help Kurds

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

US Aids Displaced Iraqis as Airstrikes Help Kurds

Article excerpt

KHAZER CAMP, Iraq * President Barack Obama justified the U.S. military's return to fighting in Iraq on Saturday by saying America must act now to prevent genocide, protect its diplomats and provide humanitarian aid to refugees trapped by Islamic militants on a mountain ridge near the Syrian border.

"This is going to be a long-term project" that won't end and can't succeed unless Iraqis form an inclusive government in Baghdad capable of keeping the country from breaking apart, Obama said at the White House.

Obama spoke after airstrikes from U.S. fighter jets and a drone killed several small groups of Islamic State extremists that were attacking Kurdish forces and refugees. The military support helped clear the way for aid flights to drop food and water to thousands of starving refugees.

But the help comes too late for many of the religious minorities targeted for elimination by the Islamic State group, which swept past U.S.-trained and -equipped Iraqi government forces in recent weeks and now controls much of Iraq.

A delayed response by the Shiite-led government in Baghdad left Kurdish forces struggling to contain the Sunni extremists' advances. With nowhere to go but uphill, Kurdish-speaking Yazidi refugees sought shelter in the mile-high Sinjar mountains, where their ancient religion holds that Noah's ark came to rest.

U.S., Iraqi and British cargo planes dropped tons of food, water, tents and other equipment to the refugees Friday and Saturday. Iraq's defense ministry released a video showing people in the Sinjar mountains rushing to collect food and water as the Iraqi government's fleet of C130 cargo planes dropped 20 tons of aid at a time.

But at least 56 children have died of dehydration in the mountains, UNICEF's spokesman in Iraq, Karim Elkorany, said Saturday. British officials estimated Saturday that 50,000 to 150,000 people could be trapped on the mountain.

And Juan Mohammed, a local government spokesman in the Syrian city of Qamishli, said that more than 20,000 starving Yazidis were fleeing across the border, braving gunfire through a tenuous "safe passage" that Kurdish peshmerga forces are trying to protect.

"They are barefoot, tired and left everything behind" in Iraq, Mohammed said. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.