United States military aircraft on Thursday dropped food and water to thousands of Iraqis besieged by Islamic militants on a mountaintop in northern Iraq, The New York Times reported, citing a senior Pentagon official.
The military made the announcement after the supplies had been delivered and the planes had left the area, the report said.
Kurdish and Iraqi officials said the US had launched airstrikes on Thursday on towns in northern Iraq seized by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, but Pentagon officials denied that American forces had begun a bombing campaign. They said it was possible that US allies, either the Iraqi or Turkish militaries, had conducted the bombing.
Kurdish officials said the bombings had initially targeted ISIS fighters who had seized two towns, Gwer and Mahmour, near the main Kurdish city of Erbil.
Earlier in the day, White House aides had said President Barack Obama was considering airstrikes or airdrops of food and medicine to address a humanitarian crisis involving up to 40,000 Iraqis who are members of religious minorities, who have been dying of heat and thirst on a mountaintop where they took shelter after death threats from ISIS fighters, according to the newspaper.
Islamist militants had swarmed across northern Iraq toward the capital of the Kurdish region, Reuters reported.
The fighters captured Iraq’s biggest Christian town, Qaraqosh, prompting many residents to flee, fearing they would be subjected to the same demands the Sunni militants made in other captured areas: leave, convert to Islam or face death.
The ISIS, considered more extreme than al-Qaeda, sees Iraq’s majority Shi’ites and minorities such as Christians and Yazidis, a Kurdish ethno-religious community, as infidels.
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