Iraq conflict: Obama vows to stop jihadist state

تم نشره في Sat 9 August / Aug 2014. 03:55 PM

US President Barack Obama has said he will not allow Sunni Muslim jihadists to carve out a "caliphate", or Islamic state, straddling Syria and Iraq.

The US has been carrying out air strikes on Islamic State (IS) militants in northern Iraq.

Mr Obama said there would be further air strikes if necessary but no US military operation on the ground.

The UK has sent a plane to join the Americans in dropping relief to beleaguered religious refugees.

A cargo plane left RAF Brize Norton in England carrying British humanitarian aid to Iraq, the BBC understands.

IS, a jihadist group formerly known as Isis, has taken control of swathes of Iraq and Syria and has also seized the country's largest dam.

As well as persecuting Christian and Yazidi minorities, the group is confronting the Kurds in northern Iraq and threatening the city of Irbil.

Mr Obama has accused Iraq's Shia Arab majority of squandering an opportunity to share power with the Sunni Arabs and Kurds.

'We can run them off'

In an interview for the New York Times, Mr Obama said: "We're not going to let them [IS] create some caliphate through Syria and Iraq, but we can only do that if we know that we've got partners on the ground who are capable of filling the void."

"We can run [IS] off for a certain period of time, but as soon as our planes are gone, they're coming right back in."

In his weekly radio address, Mr Obama emphasised that the US air strikes and humanitarian effort in northern Iraq were vital but limited.

"In recent days, terrorist forces neared the city (of Irbil)," he said. "Thursday night, I made it clear that if they attempted to advance further, our military would respond with targeted strikes.

"That's what we've done and, if necessary, that's what we will continue to do."

He also promised not to let the US be "dragged into fighting another war in Iraq".

"American combat troops will not be returning to the fight," he said.

The US has conducted its second air drop of food and water to thousands of Iraqis hiding in mountains from IS, the Pentagon says.

The aid was dropped into the mountains around the town of Sinjar, where up to 50,000 members of the Yazidi religious sect fled an IS advance a week ago.

The Pentagon said the supplies included more than 1,500 gallons of water and 28,000 meals. As well as the UK, Australia is considering playing a part in the air drops.

 

The US carried out two waves of air strikes on Friday - the first time US forces have been directly involved in a military operation in Iraq since American troops withdrew in late 2011. (BBC)

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