White House weighing air support for Iraq

Courtesy USA Today

WASHINGTON — President Obama is considering options to assist trapped minorities in Iraq, including possible airstrikes and airdrops of food and medicine, a government official said.

The administration has been mulling options for weeks, but the issue has come to a head with a mounting humanitarian catastrophe in northern Iraq where the Yazidis, a small religious minority, are trapped on a mountain top surrounded by Islamic militants.

The source asked not to be named since he was not authorized to speak about the issue. No final decision has been made.

The Yazidis are a tiny religious group that were forced out of their homes when militants attacked Sinjar in northern Iraq. The militants consider the Yazidis as apostates.

Tens of thousands of refugees fled into the mountains, perhaps hoping to reach the Kurdish region in the north, but were trapped because of militant activity between the mountain and the Kurdish area.

Tens of thousands of Yazidis are believed to be trapped on a mountain and are running short of food and water.

Iraqi aircraft have attempted to air drop supplies to the Yazidis but with limited success. Dropping supplies, particularly on a mountain top, is difficult.

The U.S. Air Force has extensive experience with air dropping supplies, which they regularly do in the mountains of Afghanistan with accuracy.

Air strikes could be used to blunt the battlefield successes of the militants, which now control about one-third of Iraq's territory.


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