Friday 28 October 2016

US Broke ISIL Seize of Mount Sinjar: Obama

Lalit K Jha/Washington

US President Barack Obama today said that the successful American military air strikes and humanitarian mission in the last few days has broken the Islamic State's seize of Iraq's Sinjar mountain where thousands of refugees were trapped.

"The situation on the mountain has greatly improved and Americans should be very proud of our efforts. Because of the skill and professionalism of our military and the generosity of our people, we broke the ISIL siege of Mount Sinjar, we helped vulnerable people reach safety and we helped save many innocent lives," Obama said in his remarks to the press at his vacation home in Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts.

"Because of these efforts, we do not expect there to be an additional operation to evacuate people off the mountain and it's unlikely that we're going to need to continue humanitarian airdrops on the mountain. The majority of the military personnel who conducted the assessment will be leaving Iraq in the coming days," Obama said.

Over the last week, the US military conducted humanitarian airdrops every night, delivering more than 114,000 meals and 35,000 gallons of fresh water. The US was joined in this effort by Britain and some other allies.

Thousands of families from the Yazidi minority community were trapped on the mountains without food and water after fleeing the rampaging fighters of the Islamic State or ISIL.

US military was able to successfully strike ISIL targets around the mountain, which improved conditions for civilians to evacuate the mountain safely, he said.

A small team of Americans - military and civilian - yesterday completed their review of conditions on the mountain, Obama said, adding that they found that food and water had been reaching those in need and that thousands of people have been evacuating safely each and every night.

"The civilians who remain continue to leave, aided by Kurdish forces and Yazidis who are helping to facilitate the safe passage of their families," he said.

Obama said the situation remains dire for Iraqis subject to ISIL’s terror through the country.

"This includes minorities like Yezidis and Iraqi Christians. It also includes many Sunnis, Shia and Kurds. We're going to be working with our international partners to provide humanitarian assistance to those who are suffering in northern Iraq," he said.

"Wherever we have capabilities and we can carry out effective missions like the one we carried out on Mount Sinjar without committing combat troops on the ground, we obviously feel a great urge to provide some humanitarian relief to the situation. I've been very encouraged by the interests of our international partners in helping on these kinds of efforts as well," said the US President.

The US, he said, will continue airstrikes to protect its people and facilities in Iraq. The US has also increased the delivery of military assistance to Iraqi and Kurdish forces fighting ISIL on the front lines, he added.

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