Editor’s Note: The U.S. Military is now bombing militants in Iraq. I wonder if this airstrike campaign will turn out like the ones attempted in Vietnam.
The United States expanded its Iraq air campaign over the weekend to beat back Islamist militants determined to kill members of a religious minority.
Fighter jets and drones struck ISIS fighters firing on ethnic Yazidis near the northern town of Sinjar, where extremists had driven tens of thousands into nearby mountains.
Iraqi officials said U.S. airstrikes Saturday killed 16 fighters from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, the extremist militia that calls itself the Islamic State.
An Iraqi airstrike in Sinjar killed an additional 45 ISIS fighters and injured 60 Friday, Iraq state media reported.
Airdrops not enough, U.N. official says
On Saturday, three U.S. cargo planes, accompanied by U.S. fighter jets, airdropped 3,804 gallons of fresh drinking water and 16,128 ready-to-eat meals to Yazidis stranded in the mountains, the military said.
But the airstrikes and humanitarian airdrops aren’t enough to help the estimated 40,000 Yazidis, a United Nations official said.
The group comprises ethnic Kurds who practice a religion that draws from Zoroastrianism, Christianity and Judaism. ISIS considers all who do not practice its strict interpretation of Sunni Islam heretics and executes them.
It has placed the heads of its victims on spikes in cities it has captured and posted videos of savage executions online.
60 children dead
Iraqi security forces have been able to airlift about 100 to 150 people a day off of Sinjar Mountain, said Marizio Babille of UNICEF, the U.N.’s children agency. And time is running out for many who cannot reach the airdropped supplies.
Dozens, including 60 children, have died on the mountain, where the Yazidis are battling extreme temperatures, hunger and thirst.
Britain and France have said they will join the United States in the airdrops. And on Sunday, a British C-130 cargo plane delivered aid to Iraq, a Ministry of Defense spokesman said.
But UNICEF wants to see international actors help open a humanitarian corridor over land — a safe escape route — to evacuate the besieged people.
On Sunday, Pope Francis said he is sending an envoy to Irbil. The envoy will leave Rome on Monday, the Pope said.