President Barack Obama authorized the US military to make targeted strikes against Islamist militants in northern Iraq, and began an emergency airdrop of water and food to members of a religious minority trapped in the mountains by advancing Islamist militants, US officials said. "I authorized targeted airstrikes if necessary to help forces in Iraq," Mr Obama said in an national address at the White House. "There is no decision that I take more seriously than the use of military force.
In a telephone interview from Erbil, Falah Mustafa Bakir said Peshmerga retreats in recent days were calculated to protect civilians from indiscriminate attacks and didn't represent a military collapse along the lines of the Iraqi army earlier this summer. "President Obama considering the airdrop and other military options will be an important show of support," he said. "This is what is needed, especially for people stranded in Sinjar.
The sudden acceleration of US military activity reflected White House concern over a burgeoning crisis in the semi-autonomous Kurdish region of Iraq as the militant group calling itself Islamic State closed in on the area and pressed an offensive against local forces, seizing areas long considered safe.
Washington has held off on any direct military involvement as the Obama administration pressures Iraqi lawmakers to form a new, more inclusive government. The U. S. rush to aid Kurdish areas of the country, long close to the US, sent an implicit US suggestion that it might do more for the central government in Baghdad once it has a new government. "We are sending a clear message to the Iraqi government," said a US official.
The latest rapid advance by Islamic State on the Christian area and the crisis involving the Yazidis are both taking place in the same northern province, Nineveh, where the militant group took the provincial capital Mosul on June 10 and sent Iraq into its worst crisis in years.
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