Tuesday 21 October 2014

US bombs Iraq ‘to stop threat of genocide’

Patrick Cockburn

Published 09/08/2014 | 02:30

The US has sent aircraft to bomb fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis) in a desperate attempt to stop their advance on the Kurdish capital, Erbil.

Two F-18 jets dropped 500lb laser-guided bombs on mobile artillery firing in support of advancing Isis forces that are half an hour’s drive from the city.

The US intervention comes after the surprise defeat of Kurdish Peshmerga forces by Isis, which has captured a quarter of Iraq and a third of Syria in the past two months.

Britain said it would provide technical assistance to the US, but last night refused to rule out joining air strikes in future if the bloodshed worsened.

The American air strikes, at 1.45pm local time yesterday, were authorised by President Barack Obama to protect Christians and to avert “a potential act of genocide” against tens of thousands of Yazidis, an ancient sect denounced by Isis.

Many Yazidis have taken refuge on a mountain top in Sinjar to escape massacre and are receiving relief supplies dropped by US aircraft.

The Isis offensive has shown the Peshmerga, the fighting forces of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), to be weaker than expected.

They have offered little ­effective resistance in Sinjar and have failed to protect Christian towns in Nineveh province, of which Mosul is the capital. In a humiliating series of reverses they have retreated back to Kalak, a town on the Greater Zaab river which is the last defensible position on the road to Erbil.

Displaced people, who fled from the violence in the province of Nineveh, arrive at Sulaimaniya province. The United States began to drop relief supplies to beleaguered Yazidi refugees fleeing Islamist militants in Iraq, but there was no immediate sign on Friday of U.S. air strikes to halt the sweeping advance of Islamic State fighters. (REUTERS/Stringer)
Displaced people, who fled from the violence in the province of Nineveh, arrive at Sulaimaniya province. The United States began to drop relief supplies to beleaguered Yazidi refugees fleeing Islamist militants in Iraq, but there was no immediate sign on Friday of U.S. air strikes to halt the sweeping advance of Islamic State fighters. (REUTERS/Stringer)
U.S. President Barack Obama talks about the humanitarian relief situation in Iraq, at the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington August 7, 2014.        REUTERS/Larry Downing   (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS)
US President Barack Obama talks about the humanitarian relief situation in Iraq at the State Dining Room of the White House
Sailors launch aircraft from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush in the Gulf
Sailors launch aircraft from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush in the Gulf

The US will have to do more than launch limited air strikes if Isis is to be stopped. Since the “Islamic State” captured Mosul on June 10 it has taken most of northern and western Iraq and last month scored a series of victories in eastern Syria. (Independent News Service)

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