News / Middle East

US Bombs Islamic Extremists in Northern Iraq

US Airstrikes Raise Hopes, Stakes in Iraqi
X
Jeff Seldin
August 09, 2014 1:31 AM
The United States is starting to pound selected Islamic State militant group targets around the Iraqi city of Irbil from the air. And defense officials warn they will not hesitate to pull the trigger if the terror group makes any moves that could threaten U.S. personnel or refugees seeking shelter from the group’s brutality. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Watch video report by VOA's Jeff Seldin at the Pentagon
Jeff SeldinVOA News

President Barack Obama says America will not be "dragged" into fighting another war in Iraq because there is "no American military solution to the larger crisis there."

Obama said in his weekly address Saturday that he has authorized two operations in Iraq - one to protect Americans in Iraq and another providing humanitarian aid to Iraqi civilians trapped on a mountain by terrorists.

The president said the U.S. "cannot and should not intervene" every time there is a crisis in the world.  However, Obama said when there is a situation like the one on the mountain, where "countless, innocent people are facing a massacre,"  the U.S. cannot "just look away."  

The U.S. military launched two rounds of airstrikes Friday in northwestern Iraq, using drones and fighter jets.

Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby said remotely piloted aircraft Friday struck Islamic State militants near Irbil. He said fighter planes later dropped eight bombs on vehicles and a mortar position in the area.  

He said the U.S. military conducted the strikes to help defend Irbil, where U.S. personnel are assisting the government of Iraq.

Earlier Friday, the U. S. military dropped 250-kilogram [500-pound] laser-guided bombs on an artillery unit that was shelling Kurdish forces defending Irbil.

A senior administration official said the strikes came as the Islamic State extremists began advancing and were beginning to threaten the periphery of the Kurdish city.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the official said the same principle would apply to any threat to U.S. personnel and facilities anywhere in Iraq, including the American embassy in Baghdad.

A U.S. Defense Department photo shows pallets of bottled water are loaded aboard a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III aircraft in preparation for a humanitarian airdrop over Iraq Aug. 8, 2014.A U.S. Defense Department photo shows pallets of bottled water are loaded aboard a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III aircraft in preparation for a humanitarian airdrop over Iraq Aug. 8, 2014.
x
A U.S. Defense Department photo shows pallets of bottled water are loaded aboard a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III aircraft in preparation for a humanitarian airdrop over Iraq Aug. 8, 2014.
A U.S. Defense Department photo shows pallets of bottled water are loaded aboard a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III aircraft in preparation for a humanitarian airdrop over Iraq Aug. 8, 2014.

The Pentagon said U.S. military aircraft dropped humanitarian aid for a second straight day Saturday to thousands of mainly Christian and Yazidi refugees. who fled their homes in the face of the Islamic fighters' advance and have taken refuge on the slopes of Sinjar mountain.

Presidential authorization

Obama on Thursday authorized U.S. military planes to carry out "targeted airstrikes" against the Islamic State extremists as well as deliver food to stranded refugees.

On Friday, Obama sent a letter to the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, John Boehner, in accordance with the War Powers Resolution, describing the situation

Obama said he had authorized targeted airstrikes in Iraq as necessary to protect American personnel in Iraq from the advance of Islamic State militants toward Irbil. Obama said he also authorized the military to provide humanitarian assistance to civilians trapped on Mount Sinjar.  

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Friday Obama had not set any specific end date for the military operations.

Religious minorities targeted

Islamic State extremists have brutally executed ethnic-religious minorities and others who do not agree with their particular brand of Islam.

Speaking from New Delhi, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said the United States would continue to support the Iraqi government, as well as Iraqi security forces against the Islamic State militants.

U.S. military aircraft dropped humanitarian aid for a second straight day Saturday to thousands of mainly Christian and Yazidi refugees. who fled their homes in the face of the Islamic fighters' advance and have taken refuge on the slopes of Sinjar mountain.

Friday three aircraft dropped 72 bundles of emergency food and water supplies to the refugees.

In Washington on Friday, U.S. Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes met at the White House with members of the Yazidi community to discuss the situation in northern Iraq, and he said the United Sates will continue to provide humanitarian support.

US praised

Outside a church in Irbil, some of the thousands of Iraqi Christians fleeing the onslaught of the Islamic State gave thanks to the U.S.

"We are happy, we are pleased with the airstrikes, and let them bring back our properties. And let our government find a proper solution for us," said Luay Janan, a Christian fleeing the violence in the region.

The first of the U.S. airstrikes hit early Friday, targeting an artillery position that had been firing on Kurdish forces protecting Irbil, a city where the U.S. has diplomats and military advisers.

Later, U.S. fighter jets taking off from the USS George HW Bush struck an Islamic State convoy and mortar position with laser-guided bombs, while a Predator drone armed with hellfire missiles took out militants at another mortar position.

How much more support Iraq gets, though, may depend on progress with a new, inclusive Iraqi government.

Militant executions

The Associated Press cited an Iraqi human rights ministry spokesman who said late Friday that hundreds of Yazidi women were taken captive by Islamic State militants.

Kamil Amin said the women are below the age of 35 and some are being held in schools in Iraq's second largest city, Mosul. He said the ministry learned of the captives from their families.

Islamic State extremists have brutally executed ethno-religious minorities and others who do not agree with their particular brand of Islam.

"They have threatened Christians to convert to Islam, pay taxes or be killed," said Ido Babe Sheikh, an advisor to former Iraqi President Jalal Talibani.

The group, which has captured significant amounts of military hardware the U.S. had previously supplied Iraqi forces, now controls a large swath of eastern Syria and northwestern Iraq. It has declared the area a "caliphate," and is actively recruiting other fighters to join the group.

Irbil, IraqIrbil, Iraq
x
Irbil, Iraq
Irbil, Iraq

The bombings represents the widest use of American military force in Iraq since U.S. troops pulled out in 2011, following nearly a decade of war.

Humanitarian aid to refugees

Viyan Dakhil, a Yazidi member of the Iraqi Parliament, welcomed U.S. efforts to help his community but stressed more needs to be done.

"This morning, 15 children died because of not having food and water. What is most urgently needed is the transfer of the Yazidi people from Shingal mountain to a better and safer location, Dakhil told VOA's Kurdish Service.

The United Nations Security Council met in emergency session late Thursday, calling on members to do all they can to support the Iraqi government and ease the suffering. The council said attacks on civilians because of their ethnic background or religion may constitute a crime against humanity.

The international community showed support for the refugees in northern Iraq.

Turkey dispatched five trucks of food, medicine, blankets and other basic goods, a senior official told Reuters.

That country, which lies on the northern borders of both Syria and Iraq, fears ISIL militants' rapid move toward Irbil, Reuters noted. But Turkish officials distanced themselves from any involvement in Friday's airstrikes, saying the U.S. air base in Turkey was not used.

Refugees arrive at Sulaimaniya province, Iraq, Aug. 8, 2014.Refugees arrive at Sulaimaniya province, Iraq, Aug. 8, 2014.
x
Refugees arrive at Sulaimaniya province, Iraq, Aug. 8, 2014.
Refugees arrive at Sulaimaniya province, Iraq, Aug. 8, 2014.

The British air force will drop food aid to the refugees within the next few days.

While British officials backed Obama's approval of airstrikes, Defense Secretary Michael Fallon said the U.K. would restrict itself to humanitarian aid and to a secondary role for the U.S. military effort.

"Our focus is on assisting that humanitarian mission," Fallon said, "and using our military in support of the Americans in terms of refueling and surveillance to underpin their mission and to add to it with food drops of our own.

"We welcome what the Americans are doing now to, in particular to bring humanitarian relief, and to prevent any further suffering," Fallon added.

Pope Francis has asked Cardinal Fernando Filoni to travel to northern Iraq and "meet with the people most affected" by the militant attacks, Catholic News Service reported Friday.

Filoni was "the only diplomat to remain in Iraq" at the start of the U.S.-led military invasion, the service reported, quoting a Vatican spokesman. The Vatican did not indicate when Filoni was expected to arrive.

Obama spoke with King Abdullah II of Jordan on Friday.

They discussed the urgency of providing humanitarian assistance to the people of Iraq, the risks to the region posed by the Islamic State and other extremist groups, and the importance of supporting an inclusive Iraqi political process.

U.S. restricts flights over Iraq

Also on Friday, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration restricted any nonmilitary U.S. aircraft from from flying over Iraq because of "the potentially hazardous situation created by the armed conflict," it said in a press release.

Turkish Airlines said it had suspended service to Irbil effective immediately. Other carriers are reportedly ready to follow suit.

VOA's Kokab Farshori in Washington and Lisa Schlein in Geneva contributed to this report.

 


Jeff Seldin

Jeff works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters covering a wide variety of subjects, from the nature of the growing terror threat in Northern Africa to China’s crackdown on Tibet and the struggle over immigration reform in the United States. You can follow Jeff on Twitter at @jseldin or on Google Plus.

You May Like

Republican Majority in Congress Off to Rough Start

Standoff over Homeland Security funding exposes philosophical, tactical problems within party More

Pakistan Blocks Baloch Activist from US Trip

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan slams Islamabad officials for stopping people from leaving country to attend human rights conference More

Video Muslims Long Thrived in North Carolina Before Students Killed

Idyll shattered February 10, when three Muslim university students living in Chapel Hill were gunned down by a neighbor More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Lawrence Bush from: Houston, Texas
August 10, 2014 1:45 PM
It's interesting as our fighter aircrafts do bomb the ISIL artellery..... Defeating the Iraqi defense, the ISIL fighters had taken away all these field pieces that our side had supplied to the Iraqi defense. So, it has been the opportunity for us again to go for the air strikes upon our artellery pieces that're now for the ISIL use........All the humanitarian assistances would be provided to the plighted people.....the Yazidi community people and our Christianity in the Kurdish area by our friendly states and ours.

by: ali
August 09, 2014 4:33 PM
These savage people (Islamic State) are exactly like the government of Iran. They are wild like animals like the beginning of Islam. Islam started by occupying Iran, the north of Africa, even they invaded Europe. Islam is a way to build their Emperor, Islamic Emperor to beat women to wear Hi jab and cover their bodies, to stop the songs, happiness, a dark world, only pray till you are dead and you can kill others who want to be happy

by: observer from: lebanon
August 09, 2014 1:22 AM
tell me when america will help the majority genocide in syria? 250000 killed most of them women and childrens,more than 1500000 wonded, 300000 killed in prisons under torture, why us supports iran`s allies like assad and weaken the free syrian army in syria?usa has helped the growth of (isis) when prevented the arrival of weapons to the free syrian army (the opposition), USA HAS SET UP IN IRAQ regim loyal to iran with tinge of sectarianism, which leads the massacres in the region, then USA says that it is fighting extremism, not the USA is one of the creating extremism in the region? know USA want to fight extremism!, you must to fight the source of extremism, iran , also isis and syrian regim and hizbolla in lebanon, USA CREAT ERTREMISM THEN WANT TO FIGHT IT , is this the the USA disposal of the american taxpayer`s money from its own people?
In Response

by: Genesis from: Earth
August 10, 2014 12:49 AM
NEVER.

by: Rebro
August 09, 2014 12:55 AM
Whilst "Not Again" is right in his assessment, action is better than no action and being subjected to a precision guided airstrike is psychologically terrifying, if you are lucky enough to come out unscathed. It is common knowledge that tactical options of this nature are not up for open discussion via social media. The USA
once again with its allies acts decisively - well done.

by: pako from: israel
August 08, 2014 10:54 PM
The Israeli army killed hundreds of infants and children and innocent men and women, and the Israeli army hit the 10.000 babies and children and innocent men and women,! That's because the Israeli soldiers are afraid to fight the terrorists! The soldiers just bomb the planes and tanks and guns and war spnity! The soldiers know where the terrorists but the soldiers are afraid to go and fight them! Then the Israeli soldiers were not cowards to kill infants and children and unarmed men and women and innocent! It doesn't matter to the Israeli soldiers!

by: Not Again from: Canada
August 08, 2014 6:05 PM
A part time occassional strike is totally useles as a strategy to stop and push back IS. Using maned aircraft is a risky undertaking. This appears to be an costly type of undertaking. The fisrt step to undermine and even reverse IS, is to deploy the equivalent of four drone squadrons, and commence the systematic destruction of all mobile equipment the IS uses; an operation tha needs to go 24/7, until such time as IS is prevented from moving armaments and personnel. The fact that reports in the media indicate that IS has taken over the Mosul dam, the major water supply, if true, it is a major disaster.
The use of expensive aircraft, with onboard pilots, is also a bad approach to the reduction of IS strenght; it is better than nothing, but not very effective use of $, or delivery of a few munitions.
Unfortunaely, the US' current UAs program is short of the type of armed UA required, one that has a different weapon, like a gatling gun, so as not use expensive missiles to get rid of armed pickups, or small concentrations of terrorists. In any case the first step, in my view, is to take away the ability of IS to move fighters, equipment, munitions and supplies, anything that moves needs to be cut down/brought to a halt.
The Iraqi gvmt needs to push North on the eastern com lines, past Tikrit to join with Kurdish forces and retake the dam(s) secure water supplies. Following which it needs to move accross the water ways, Westwards outflanking the terrorists, and concurrently push North from Baghdad, step by step on the Western lines of com, as is following/climbing a ladder, all the way up to Mosul+.
A few airstrikes, will not do much, but risk the lives of pilots on their very long runs from the Gulf. UAVs can stay on-station, a better UA is required, one that has a pilot and a weapons sensor operator, to ensure good target classification/selection. Once the IS' mobility sys (trucks/pic-ups, APCs, buses, tractors..) are destroyed, a review of the tactics will be required.
In Response

by: ali baba from: new york
August 09, 2014 8:59 AM
The Number of ISIL fighter is between 2000 to 10000. they are not well trained soldiers and their leader are not trained as a soldiers. they are not so strong . by Us attack its vehicle ,it give a hand to Iraq to defeated them. you have to understand that we are fighting ideology rather than terrorist. The manifesto of Quran is give them guideline to act. US can not go after them all over the world. we have use another means than expose our troops in danger . We have to stop supply them of arm because they use deception and get arm from other countries. If the Arab country can easily buy weapons by the arm dealer and give it to them for the sake of God. the problem is not over.
In Response

by: meanbill from: USA
August 09, 2014 8:54 AM
CRAZY isn't it?.... The US is only bombing (their) artillery and mortars, taken by the Sunni Muslim troops they armed and trained in Iraq, (and), after those US armed and trained Sunni Muslims deserted the Iraq army, (they then joined the (ISIL) al-Baghdadi Sunni Muslim army), and took all the weapons the US was arming and training them with, to fight the Shia Muslim led governments in Iraq and Syria.... (IF ONLY the US hadn't interfered in the politics of Iraq and Syria, (and), IF ONLY the US hadn't armed and trained the Sunni Muslims to fight the Shia Muslim led governments?).

by: Ali baba from: new york
August 08, 2014 1:52 PM
Air strike against ISIL is an excellent idea. by giving helping hand to Iraq and Kurds , ISIL will learn a lesson that their barbaric action will not tolerated and the groups of thugs whom come from all over world to kill and they believe that God is supported them . ISIL is a collection of radical Islam whom they believe that they can control the world . they believe that they are going to restore the Islamic Empire. when some of these thugs return to Us , they should not be allowed to come back even they are American Citizen. the best place to them is mental institution

by: Godwin from: Nigeria
August 08, 2014 12:14 PM
Bravo, the US Air Force! That was a wonderful performance. Despite the spineless appeal, you have been able to make immediate impact that is likely to scuttle the Islamic State's advancement in the warfront. It has come to the point the US should understand that it does not have to lease, rent or transfer its weapons technology to any force claiming to fight terror. The chickening out of Iraqi military to the ISIS militants is ignominious. I fail to be convinced that a trained army just yielded to no pressure like that. Learning from what is happening in northeast Nigeria, one can safely say there was an arrangement to surrender those weapons to ISIS by the Iraqi army. While it is heart warming to see American action to salvage the situation in Iraq, the absence of an incisive command reminiscent of US presidential orders dused the shine in this action.

The beggarly approach and conditioning - "if U.S. personnel and facilities were imperiled" - removed the bite and Hollywood theatrical excitement in the command that brought this action to bear. You wish it was before, the action goes before the reason or explanation is given. But please don't let’s stop there. If need be, the US should support whatever effort France is trying to request from the UN Security Council to ensure a total removal of ISIS influence in the region. Time is past for the kind of idiotic diplomacy Britain is playing saying it supports US president's determination to air-strike ISIS positions. Britain should come up with concrete input and help defeat terror in its infancy, not wait until another Michael Adebowale kills another soldier on a London street.

With what is happening in Iraq and Syria, the world should understand why it should not be in a hurry to ask Israel to grant the terrorist demands of a free Gaza Strip until there is enough evidence that Hamas renounces violence. Hamas is ISIS pair in the Middle East, and once it is allowed in there, it will combine with Hezbollah to give the world the greatest shock of all time. It started by destroying landmarks in Iraq, it will do worse in the Middle East if allowed inroad. So bravo once again USA. But please don’t wait for it to affect only US interests before you do what is good; ensure this time around that terror is defeated not hibernated, like the premature exit of US army that gave room for this crisis.

by: Lawrence Bush from: Houston, Texas
August 08, 2014 12:00 PM
Our president to give his directives to deter the ISIL movement in Iraq is welcome. But president Obama keeps his scope of such air strikes is very very comprehensive......... it's only to protecting our people and our embassy staffs in Iraq. The spread of the ISIL covers a swath of Iraq and
Syria. In context of Syria for our direct strikes, our president is keeping his hands off so far. So, it's certainly pertinent the ISIL has established its authority to stand as a rex state in the politico-geographical map of this world. And, time to come up ahead the ISIL would join the Arab League as a new member; so, the United Nations. ......... If our govt. would've correctly meddled in the Syrian civil war managing the rebel groups, the very existence of the statehood of ISIL would not have been possible. Of course, in the Syrian civil war, Russia and Iran are there. Here, our govt. had necessiated big strategy and bold steps instead of remaining passive. That passivity is the outcome of the ISIL.
In Response

by: Anonymous
August 09, 2014 2:09 PM
Bush,tanx for ur contribution.your American Govt contribute to many problems in the middle east.
In Response

by: Bola from: ilorin,nigeria
August 09, 2014 2:09 PM
Bush,tanx for ur contribution.your American Govt contribute to many problems in the middle east.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Studentsi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
March 05, 2015 9:04 PM
The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Students

The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Fuel Shortages in Nigeria Threaten Election Campaigns

Nigeria is suffering a gas shortage as the falling oil price has affected the country’s ability to import and distribute refined fuels. Coming just weeks before scheduled March 28 elections, the shortage could have a big impact on the campaign, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA.
Video

Video Report: Human Rights in Annexed Crimea Deteriorating

A new report by Freedom House and the Atlantic Council of the United States says the human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated since the peninsula was annexed by Russia in March of last year. The report says the new authorities in Crimea are discriminating against minorities, suppressing freedom of expression, and forcing residents to assume Russian citizenship or leave. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video 50 Years Later African-Americans See New Voting Rights Battles Ahead

Thousands of people will gather to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march on March 7th in Selma, Alabama. In 1965, dozens of people were seriously injured during the event known as “Bloody Sunday,” after police attacked African-American demonstrators demanding voting rights. VOA’s Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights pioneers who are still fighting for voting rights in Alabama more than 50 years later.
Video

Video Craft Brewers Taking Hold in US Beer Market

Since the 1950’s, the U.S. beer industry has been dominated by a handful of huge breweries. But in recent years, the rapid rise of small craft breweries has changed the American market and, arguably, the way people drink beer. VOA’s Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Volunteer Gauge-Watchers Help Fine-Tune Weather Science

An observation system called CoCoRaHS is working to improve weather science, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country who measure precipitation in their own backyards, then share their data through the Internet. VOA's Shelley Schlender reports.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More