President Obama authorizes targeted airstrikes in Iraq
Washington, DC (CNN) - The White House has authorized airstrikes in Iraq, aimed at protecting Americans there, and helping Iraqi forces.
This morning US forces in Iraq are at the ready. President Obama is authorizing "targeted airstrikes" to protect American personnel in Irbil, the capital of the Kurdish region now threatened by ISIS militants.
President Obama: "We intend to stay vigilant and take action. These terrorists moved across Iraq, and have neared the city of Irbil where American diplomats and civilians serve at the consulate and military."
Overnight, a humanitarian aid drop made atop a mountain near Sinjar, where thousands of Yezidis, a religious minority group, have fled to escape a massacre by ISIS. Actions which Obama says could "constitute genocide".
President Obama: "These terrorists have been especially barbaric toward religious minorities. These innocent families are faced with a horrible choice: Descend the mountain and be slaughtered or stay and slowly die of the thirst and hunger."
Three Air Force cargo planes escorted by two fighter jets supplied over 70 bundles of critical aid, including thousands of gallons of water and food. It’s a race to stop catastrophe, after 40 children have reportedly already died from thirst. The President is also authorizing more "targeted airstrikes" to help Iraqi forces as they attempt to break the mountain siege.
President Obama: "Today America is coming to help"
ISIS is also targeting Christians, attacking three villages around Ninevea Province, Iraq’s Christian area overrun by militants. The militants are forcing hundreds of Christian families to flee. ISIS fighters posing are posing an ultimatum to Iraqis: "Convert to Islam or die"
A reign of terror continues as ISIS gains control and takes over key parts of the country, including Iraq’s largest dam, according to the militants. It’s a key source of electricity and water.