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U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants in northern Iraq

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The airstrikes targeted artillery being used by militants of the Islamic State extremist group against Kurdish forces defending Irbil, the Kurdish regional capital, the Pentagon said. It said the artillery was used “near U.S. personnel.”

The U.S. action came after President Obama authorized airstrikes against Sunni Muslim extremists who punctured Kurdish defenses in a powerful offensive in northern Iraq on Thursday. Obama also sent U.S. military aircraft to drop food and water to besieged Iraqi civilians in the region.


U.S. aircraft also are authorized to launch airstrikes if the military determines that Iraqi government and Kurdish forces are unable to break the siege that has stranded tens of thousands of civilians belonging to the minority Yazidi sect atop a barren mountain outside the northern town of Sinjar.

Obama's statements at link

Dropping food and water is good but bombing ISIS sounds like a bad idea because it means we're taking sides in a conflict where we do not belong. Again.

I read it and I still think it's a bad idea to intervene.

Thank you!  Preventing genocide is a worthy cause.

"I’ve said before, the United States cannot and should not intervene every time there’s a crisis in the world. So let me be clear about why we must act, and act now. When we face a situation like we do on that mountain — with innocent people facing the prospect of violence on a horrific scale, when we have a mandate to help — in this case, a request from the Iraqi government — and when we have the unique capabilities to help avert a massacre, then I believe the United States of America cannot turn a blind eye. We can act, carefully and responsibly, to prevent a potential act of genocide. That’s what we’re doing on that mountain."

Shouldn't preventing genocide be the mandate of the international community, not just the United States alone?

Here's a good overview of what's going on.

ISIL, a death cult led by self-appointed “Caliph” Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, hates pretty much everyone who doesn’t agree with his particular, perverted interpretation of Islam. That includes fellow Sunni Muslims, be they Arab or Kurd. And ISIL fighters seems to take special, sadistic relish in slaughtering Shi’ites, whom they regard as apostates. The Shi’ites are the majority in Iraq as a whole, and dominate the central government in Baghdad, are a minority in the north, where ISIL is now rampant.

The trapped peoples of the northMany Shi’ites can flee—some already have—southward, and find refuge among family and those of their own sect; many of my Shi’ite friends in Baghdad are currently sheltering northerners sent to them by religious organizations. Kurds, likewise, have been streaming into the Kurdish-dominated areas to the north and west of ISIL-controlled territory. Yet another minority, the Assyrians, most whom are Christians, have also fled south, and now await succor from the West, especially from groups of well-established Iraqi Christians in the US, who themselves fled previous spasms of persecution.

But other minorities, just as vulnerable to the wrath of ISIL, have neither international support nor nearby refuge. And ISIL seems to have identified them forspecial persecution.

The Yazidis: Numbering roughly 500,000, and concentrated around Sinjar, this group is ethnically Kurdish and adheres to a faith that has some aspects of ancient Zoroastrianism. Many Iraqi Muslims refer to Yazidis as “devil-worshipers,” because one of the faith’s foundational narratives of a fallen angel is similar to that ofshaitan (or Satan) in Islam. When I traveled to Sinjar in 2003, my Iraqi colleagues, Sunni and Shi’ite alike, used the term “devil-worshipers” as a joke, even a term of endearment. ISIL, however, is taking the false claim of satanism as deadly serious. Hundreds, possibly thousands, of Yazidis have already been killed and tens of thousands have been driven into the mountains around Sinjar, where they are exposed to the elements as well as ISIL execution squads.

The Shabak: Also concentrated around Sinjar, the Shabak are about one-tenth as numerous as the Yazidis, and even more vulnerable. Their faith doesn’t lend itself to easy definitions, since it is comprised of several micro-sects with elements of several religions, including Islam, Christianity and the Yazidi faith. Some Shabak identify as Shi’ite; that makes them double-heretics for ISIL, which has taken tokidnapping Shabaks from their villages and neighborhoods in Mosul.

Shi’ite Turkmen: Ethnically connected to Turks, Iraqi Turkmen are a large minority, with estimates ranging up to 3 million people. They are for the most part Muslims, with Sunnis slightly outnumbering Shi’ites. Historically, Turkmen have enjoyed a stronger position than most minorities; they have been represented in the higher echelons of the government and military. But the Shi’ites among them have run afoul of ISIL, which has destroyed their places of worship. To complicate matters, many Turkmen are wary of the territorial ambitions of the Kurds, and now find themselves caught between the two.

Leaders of all these minority groups have sent increasingly desperate pleas—to the Maliki government, to the US, to the UN—for help. But while some appeals havegone viral online, and the UN has engaged in its usual pro-forma hand-wringing, the SOS has gone largely unanswered as the world focused on Gaza. Now that the ceasefire there appears (fingers crossed) to be holding, there’s no excuse not to respond.

Basically, the UN and the international community are dragging their feet.

So the US is taking a leadership role once again halfway around the world.

This appeal is very good...

...but I just shake my head that it's the US that has to get involved.

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