Washington, DC, United States (4E) – President Barack Obama may authorize a humanitarian airdrop to some 40,000 members of the Yazidi sect trapped by Islamic extremist in northwestern Iraq’s Mount Sinjar.
“We’re working intensively with the government of Iraq, the Iraqi security forces and the Kurdish authorities in the immediate area to support their efforts to address the humanitarian situation in Sinjar,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said on Thursday, according to The Washington Post.
Earnest said Obama and his senior national security advisers discussed the plan in a meeting on Thursday morning. A military strike on Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) forces elsewhere in Iraq was also proposed but no decision was made.
Between 10,000 and 40,000 civilians, mostly Yazidis, fled their homes and villages in the town of Sinjar after ISIS forces composed mostly of Sunni extremists broke through the defense lines of Kurdish forces defending the area. They are trapped in a barren mountaintop and children were dying, said Marzio Babille, Iraq representative for the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef). Some of the trapped refugees called or texted through mobile phones running out of battery life that people were dying from thirst.
The refugees in Mount Sinjar also reported the mass execution of civilians by ISIS forces in the town.
Iraqi government planes managed to drop bottled water to some of the stranded families. At least 15 to 20 flights would be needed, just to provide those stranded with enough water and supplies to survive for a week, Babille told The Independent.
ISIS forces have also taken over Qaraqosh, the largest Christian town in Iraq, after Kurdish defenders retreated, fleeing residents and Christian clerics said on Thursday.
The Christian towns of Tal Kayf, Bartella and Karamlesh were also under the control of militants, Joseph Thomas, the Chaldean archbishop of Kirkuk and Sulaimaniyah, told AFP.