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Obama mulls U.S. airstrikes to help trapped religious minorities in Iraq: NYT

(Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama is considering airstrikes and emergency relief airdrops to help 40,000 religious minorities in Iraq who are trapped on a mountaintop after threats by Islamic militants, the New York Times reported on Thursday.

Obama has been looking at a range of options, from dropping humanitarian supplies on Mount Sinjar to military strikes on fighters from the Islamic State who are at the base of the mountain, a senior administration official told the newspaper.

The Islamic State's Sunni militants, an offshoot of al Qaeda who have swept across northwestern Iraq in recent weeks, have even come within a 30 minutes drive of the Kurdish capital of Arbil. They inflicted a humiliating defeat on Kurdish forces over the weekend and prompting tens of thousands from the ancient Yazidi community to flee the town of Sinjar for surrounding mountains.

Some of the many thousands trapped on Sinjar mountain have been rescued in the past 24 hours, a spokesman for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said earlier, adding that 200,000 had fled the fighting.

The Islamist fighters, who have killed many thousands and declared a caliphate in the area they conquered, are threatening the northern Iraq region of Kurdistan, previously considered a bastion of stability in a country ravaged by conflict.

The Kurds have made urgent appeals to Washington for arms or other military help, but the United States, committed to helping Baghdad restore a unified state and wary of Kurdish moves toward independence, have so far declined.

However, there have been signs the Obama administration may be shifting its position.

Bernadette Meehan, spokeswoman for Obama's National Security Council, told Reuters on Wednesday that any provision of U.S. weapons to the Kurds "must be coordinated with central government authorities, in Iraq and elsewhere."

But she added that given the threat from the Islamic State "the United States will continue to engage with Baghdad and Arbil to enhance cooperation on the security front and other issues. We are in continuous consultation with the Government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government to determine how they can best coordinate" to confront the militants.

She said Washington fully supported a decision earlier this week by Baghdad to send air support to Kurdistan.

The United States help protect the Kurds from an onslaught by former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein after the first Gulf War in 1991, with airdrops of humanitarian supplies and a no-fly zone to prevent Saddam's air attacks on the mountainous region.

White House Tight Lipped on Possible Air Strikes in Iraq

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raddison4x August 07 2014 at 2:57 PM

This guy will end up being the last president we have because I think he will declare marshall law and stay in office forever. He acts on his own and writes his own laws, so why not?

Now he is trying to look like he is doing something when all he has been doing was bashing GOP as he campaigned for the Dems while the world was on fire.

Anyone who is still supporting him has to be either an illegal or a welfare taker.

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49 replies
Sparky5229 August 07 2014 at 2:48 PM

They will all be dead before MR.O does any thing ,this man is a waste of time.

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24 replies
dr scott kanner August 07 2014 at 2:41 PM

Better destroy isis now...before they take over the middle east....send the bill to the saudis

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12 replies
mgt0331 August 07 2014 at 2:53 PM

This pimp couldn't mull the appetizer menu at FRIDAYS.

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8 replies
Constance Harrison August 07 2014 at 2:56 PM

Time to assist those in the path of ISIS - and destroy ISIS completely. No hesitation necessary...ISIS butchers everything it touches.-- use all the air power and firepower that it takes to remove this evil stench from the earth - immediately.

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13 replies
moradadavislodi August 07 2014 at 2:58 PM

Obama is going to do nothing.

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7 replies
bookbuyer1 August 07 2014 at 2:49 PM

After he rescues them, can he find a way to let them vote?

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11 replies
cjgmaj August 07 2014 at 2:56 PM

well ? what are you waiting for ? shocked that he is even thinking about going after his own people -- the muslims.

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10 replies
bronbronco27 August 07 2014 at 3:11 PM

I thought he condemned such actions. Its difficult when reality is in your face instead of ideals, isn't it? You can accuse those who went before you with smug jibes and rhetoric but when you are the one who the responsibility falls on its a different story. So think, politicians, before you try to bs everyone.

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2 replies
bronbronco27 bronbronco27 August 07 2014 at 5:29 PM

The truth is he had no idea what he was promising while running. With everyone so eager to 'make history', so to speak, the voters overlooked his absolute lack of experience, his poor senate record and thug politics, focusing only on the outward package. And he was so narcississtic, he believed he could somehow wave a magic wand and the rest of the world would be as enchanted as the misguided minions blinded by idealism. Now, the rest of the world laughs at us, not realizing that the great majority of us aren't the ones who put Kim Kardashian, the Jersey Shore crew and, yes, BHO - king of the amateuer butt clowns.

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2 replies
bronbronco27 bronbronco27 August 07 2014 at 5:30 PM

on a pedestal.

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tewdeeq bronbronco27 August 07 2014 at 8:45 PM

Idealism is wonderful because those who are idealistic can't even imagine that there is something like evil or the wicked.

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bniel77644 August 07 2014 at 2:56 PM

He must be a slow thinker…he's been mulling this for about a month now, and where was it that he graduated from, one or two or…of those eastern ivy schools. Pretty impressive!!

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17 replies
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