It took the dire plight of 150,000 Yazidis to bestir our president over the out and out butchery that the Islamic State is carrying out on ethnic and religious minorities who happen to get in their way. About 40,000 followers of that ancient religion had been trapped on a mountain with no food or water, and little ammunition to continue the fight against advancing ISIS barbarians.
Now, Kurdish TV is reporting that US planes bombed ISIS positions, trying to relieve the pressure on the Yazidis.
American military forces bombed at least two targets in northern Iraq on Thursday night to rout Islamist insurgents who have trapped tens of thousands of religious minorities in Kurdish areas, Kurdish officials said.
Word of the bombings, reported on Kurdish television from the city of Erbil, came as President Obama was preparing to make a statement in Washington.
Kurdish officials said the bombings targeted fighters from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria who had seized two towns, Gwer and Mahmour. Residents who had fled those areas by car were heard honking their horns in approval. But Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, said on Twitter that the reports of the bombings were false.
Obama administration officials had said earlier in the day that Mr. Obama was considering airstrikes or airdrops of food and medicine to address a humanitarian crisis among as many as 40,000 members of religious minorities in Iraq, who have been dying of heat and thirst on a mountaintop where they took shelter after death threats from ISIS.
It wouldn’t be unusual for the Pentagon to deny the bombings took place — especially since the operation may still be ongoing.
As Bridget Johnson wrote earlier, Turkey has been the only country active in trying to save the Yazidis. But Turkey has very little interest in helping the Kurds fight off ISIS, because of the long rebellion by Turkish Kurds against the government.
The US has an interest in a strong, independent Kurdish state. Perhaps while we’re bombing ISIS positions to help the Yazidis, while we’re in the neighborhood, maybe we should take a few shots at ISIS forces who are bedeviling the Peshmerga, the tough little Kurdish army that has been reeling in the last fortnight from ISIS attacks.
We wouldn’t want to interrupt the president’s golf game or fundraising schedule, but if he can squeeze it in, perhaps he can devote some time to dealing with this growing threat from the Islamic State.