Iraq's Religious Minorities Still in Danger as Fighting Continues and International Help Arrives
International Christian Concern
The United States military continued its operations on Saturday to provide air support to drive back the fighters from the Islamic State (IS, or ISIS) who continue to wage war across northwestern Iraq and to provide humanitarian assistance to more than 1.5 million people who have been forced from their homes.
So far in its operations the U.S. has carried out three waves of airstrikes. The latest round included four operations targeted at protecting the Yazidi religious minorities who fled into the Sinjar mountains. Tens of thousands have been stranded in the hills without food or water.
In addition to the air strikes, U.S. troops have also used cargo planes to drop dozens of pallets loaded with drinking water and food to families trapped on the mountains. Efforts are ongoing to open up a secure passage out of the mountains, westward to a secure location across the Syrian border.
In a press conference on Saturday, President Obama said that the U.S. operations could continue for months, but repeated his assurances that he does not intend to put soldiers on the ground.
Along with the U.S. relief operations by the military and USAID, numerous international actors are also providing aid, according to the UN. Saudi Arabia has committed large amounts of funds to relief, along with promises from the UK and France to send much needed goods to support these displaced communities.
ICC's partners and contacts on the ground continue to report on the desperate situations they see around them and the overwhelming needs that they are unable to fully meet.
"They have nothing. They have been looted," Chaldean Patriarch Louis Sako told ICC on Saturday. "[They need] foods, water, medicines and a shelter," he continued, describing how many refugees had immediate needs for basic necessities.
For interviews, contact Todd Daniels, Regional Manager for the Middle East: RM-ME@persecution.org
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