Accessibility/Mobile Features
Skip Navigation
Skip to Content
Editorial News
Classified Sites

The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Sources: US considering humanitarian relief mission for ethnic Turkmen in northern Iraq

WASHINGTON - The Obama administration is considering launching a humanitarian relief operation for Shiite Turkmen in northern Iraq who have been under siege for weeks by Islamic State militants, U.S. defence officials said Wednesday.

And as the administration weighed its options for targeting Islamic State strongholds in neighbouring Syria, the U.S. Central Command announced three more airstrikes in the vicinity of Ibril and the Mosul Dam. The strikes by unspecified U.S. fighter, attack and drone aircraft, destroyed an Islamic State Humvee, a supply truck and three armoured vehicles and damaged an Islamic State building, Central Command said.

The three attacks brought to 101 the number of U.S. airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Iraq since Aug. 8.

The contemplated relief mission, if it went forward, would be the second recent U.S. military humanitarian intervention in Iraq. U.S. C-17 and C-130 cargo planes dropped tons of food and water to displaced Yazidis on Mount Sinjar in northern Iraq earlier this month, supported by U.S. airstrikes on nearby Islamic State fighting positions.

The administration is now focused on the imperiled town of Amirli, which is situated about 105 miles (168 kilometres) north of Baghdad and near Kurdish territory. An estimated 12,000 to 15,000 people are estimated to have no access to food or water.

The head of the United Nation's assistance mission in Iraq, Nickolay Mladenov, earlier this week called for urgent action in Amirli and described the situation as desperate.

Three U.S. defence officials said a humanitarian mission is under consideration. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they could not discuss internal administration deliberations by name. The timetable for a decision on whether and how to go ahead with the mission was not immediately clear.

Separately, the top U.S. commander in the Middle East, Army Gen. Lloyd Austin, met Wednesday in Baghdad with Iraq's premier-designate, Haider al-Abadi, to discuss co-operation in the fight against the Islamic State group, according to a statement issued by al-Abadi's office. The statement said Austin expressed the U.S. government's willingness to provide more counterterrorism training for Iraqi security forces.

The U.S. has several hundred military personnel in Iraq providing security for American facilities, including the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and the U.S. Consulate in Irbil, and co-ordinating with Iraqi security forces.

The U.S. also has a military-run Office of Security Cooperation as part of the U.S. Embassy, but the military personnel assigned to that office work on military sales rather than provide field training for Iraqi forces.

The siege of Amirli is part of the Islamic State's offensive, which seized large swaths of western and northern Iraq this summer and pushed further in neighbouring Syria.

Residents have put up fierce resistance since the siege began, preventing the Sunni militants from successfully taking over the town. But the militants have, in turn, cut off the town, leaving thousands without access to food, water and medicine, despite recent airdrops by the Iraqi military.

Like other minorities in Iraq such as the Christians and the Yazidis, the Shiite Turkmen community has also been targeted by the Islamic State, which views them as apostates. Tens of thousands of Turkmens, Iraq's third-largest ethnic group, have been uprooted from their homes since the Islamic State took Mosul, the northern city of Tikrit and a spate of towns and villages in the area.

Dr. Ali al-Bayati, head of an Iraq-based humanitarian group called the Turkmen Saving Foundation, said Wednesday that at least 15,000 civilians, including many women and children, remain trapped in Amirli without access to food or water.

He said the streets are blocked by Islamic State fighters and the only way out is by air. The nearest Iraqi ground force is in the town of Toz Khormatu, which has seen intense clashes in recent weeks. Electricity and water are completely cut off in Amirli, according to al-Bayati.

Al-Bayati said airdrops from the Iraqi military have provided residents with desperately needed staples like rice, oil and cheese, as well as weapons to help them resist the Islamic State. However the residents often go 10 days without any airdrops successfully reaching them.

David Pollock, a former State Department official and now a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said Tuesday the U.S. military could assist in opening a land corridor into Kurdish territory for the besieged Turkmen.

"It's a very urgent situation," Pollock said.

___

Associated Press writers Vivian Salama and Sinan Salaheddin in Baghdad contributed to this report.

  • Rate this Rate This Star Icon
  • This article has not yet been rated.
  • We want you to tell us what you think of our articles. If the story moves you, compels you to act or tells you something you didn’t know, mark it high. If you thought it was well written, do the same. If it doesn’t meet your standards, mark it accordingly.

    You can also register and/or login to the site and join the conversation by leaving a comment.

    Rate it yourself by rolling over the stars and clicking when you reach your desired rating. We want you to tell us what you think of our articles. If the story moves you, compels you to act or tells you something you didn’t know, mark it high.

Sort by: Newest to Oldest | Oldest to Newest | Most Popular 0 Commentscomment icon

You can comment on most stories on brandonsun.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is register and/or login and you can join the conversation and give your feedback.

There are no comments at the moment. Be the first to post a comment below.

Post Your Commentcomment icon

Comment
  • You have characters left

The Brandon Sun does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. Comments are moderated before publication. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

Brandon Sun Business Directory
The First World War at 100

Social Media