Refugees flee violence in Iraq
As militants from the group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have taken hold of some parts of northern Iraq, tens of thousands of religious minorities in the country have fled from the violence.
President Obama on Thursday approved a humanitarian mission to provide food and water to tens of thousands of religious minorities, including Christians and Yezidis – a Kurdish sect with roots dating back to ancient Mesopotamia – who have been stranded on Mount Sinjar in northern Iraq under threat of execution and enslavement by ISIS forces. The president also authorized airstrikes against ISIS targets, which began Friday morning.
Obama said at the White House Thursday that he believed religious minorities in the country faced the threat of genocide if the U.S. didn’t step in to provide assistance.
“When many thousands of innocent civilians are faced with the danger of being wiped out, and we have the capacity to do something about it, we will take action,” Obama said. “That is our responsibility as Americans. That’s a hallmark of American leadership. That’s who we are.”
Benjamin Landy contributed reporting.