Editor’s Note: After Obama pulled troops out of Iraq, ISIS to took over; now we are headed back into the fight. Seems like if Obama wasn’t so eager to pull our troops out in the first place, none of this would have happened.
American warplanes have bombarded an Islamic State artillery position in northern Iraq in a bid to halt the ISIS hoard sweeping the country and save thousands of innocent lives.
Two F/A18 fighter jets were dispatched from the USS George H. W. Bush to unleash 500lb-bombs on a group of Islamic militants towing artillery outside Erbil near U.S. personnel.
The attack swiftly follows Barack Obama’s dramatic call to arms last night in which he authorised airstrikes to defend hundreds of thousands of non-Muslims being hunted down and slaughtered by Islamic State jihadists as he declared: ‘America is coming to help.’
It is the U.S. military’s first active involvement in Iraq since it withdrew from the embattled country three years ago.
The attack comes as the chaos engulfing Iraq escalated rapidly yesterday with a re-energised Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant storming towns in the north, executing villagers and chasing thousands from their homes into the desert.
Already dozens of Yazidis – who ISIS have denounced as devil-worshippers because of their ancient beliefs which predate Christianity and Islam – have been murdered since the extremist fighters overran the town of Sinjar yesterday.
Up to 50,000 terrified Yazidis – half of them children – have sought refuge from the bloodshed in the barren surrounding mountains as their hunters close in.
But there they face an impossible dilemma – try to make it to the Turkish border and risk being captured and killed by insurgents, or remain on Mount Sinjar without food or water in the searing heat in the hope that aid will somehow get through.
Many have already died of hunger and thirst as they struggle to survive on just the food they could carry in temperatures exceeding 42C.
Photographs have emerged of Yazidi men carrying the bodies of dozens of young children apparently killed by ISIS militants, who in turn have posted pictures online of themselves posing next to dead Yazidi men.
The dead men’s wives were reportedly kept as trophies to be gifted to unmarried jihadist fighters.
In a televised late-night statement from the White House, Mr Obama said American warplanes had already carried out airdrops of food and water to the Iraqi Yazidis hiding in the mountains.
‘Today America is coming to help,’ he declared, adding: ‘The United States cannot and should not intervene every time there’s a crisis in the world.
‘So let me be clear about why we must act, and act now: when we face a situation like we do on that mountain — with innocent people facing the prospect of violence on a horrific scale, when we have a mandate to help . . . and when we have the unique capabilities to help avert a massacre, then I believe the United States of America cannot turn a blind eye.’
ISIS fighters beat back the Kurdish peshmerga fighters – Iraq’s most formidable fighting force – who have thus far fought tirelessly to defend their northern heartland, but are becoming stretched thin across several fronts.
In what will be seen as a major coup for the extremist force, they also seized the Mosul Dam – Iraq’s largest – which places them in control of enormous power and water resources and access to the river that runs through the heart of Baghdad.
Panic even began to tear through the Kurdish capital of Erbil, long considered a safe haven, where civilians today flooded the airport in a futile attempt to buy tickets to the Iraqi capital.
And as shockwaves from the crisis reverberated around the world, oil companies began closing fields and evacuating staff from Kurdistan in a move that has caused shares to plummet.
Meanwhile, Pope Francis begged world leaders to help end the crisis, after Iraq’s largest Christian town was sacked sending tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians fleeing for their lives.
Yesterday ISIS captured Qaraqush and several others near Mosul following the withdrawal of Kurdish peshmerga fighters.
‘(The Christians) have fled with nothing but their clothes, some of them on foot, to reach the Kurdistan region,’ Patriarch Sako told AFP. ‘This is a humanitarian disaster; the churches are occupied, their crosses were taken down.’ He added that up to 1,500 manuscripts were burnt.
The Vatican said in a statement: ‘His Holiness addresses an urgent appeal to the international community to take action to end the humanitarian tragedy now underway, to act to protect those affected or threatened by violence and to provide aid, especially for the most urgent needs of the many who have been forced to flee and who depend on the solidarity of others.’
While Iraq’s Christian population has declined steeply since the end of the Iraq War, there are still some 450,000 – 1.2 per cent of the country – living there.
The rush of people expelled from their homes or fleeing violence has exacerbated Iraq’s already-dire humanitarian crisis, with some 200,000 Iraqis joining the 1.5 million people already displaced from violence this year.
Yesterday, the al-Qaida breakaway Islamic State posted a statement online confirming it had captured the Mosul Dam and vowing to continue ‘the march in all directions,’ as it expands its self-styled caliphate.
The group said it has seized a total of 17 Iraqi cities, towns and targets – including Qaraqush and Sinjar. Their statement could not be independently verified, but it was posted on a website frequently used by militants.