On Thursday evening, the United States began an airlift operation aimed at providing relief to a group of approximately 40,000 Yazidis, a minority Kurdish religious group trapped on a remote mountain. The group of Yazidis is surrounded by ISIS fighters, and the members of the surrounded minority group have reportedly been succumbing to thirst.
“The United States is sending cargo planes to drop pallets of humanitarian aid and supplies to stranded Iraqi citizens threatened by the militant Islamic group ISIS, according to U.S. officials,” ABC News reporter Martha Raddatz reveled. NBC and CNN reporters have confirmed that a humanitarian airlift is underway.
The move was prompted by an increasing international awareness to the humanitarian disaster unfolding in Kurdistan resulting from ISIS’s unchecked advance. A heartbreaking video featuring one Yazidis woman pleading for the world to intervene in order to save her people from extermination went viral this week:
Kurdish television reported earlier on Thursday that air raids on ISIS positions were ongoing and attributed the attacks to the United States, but the Pentagon denied that any airstrikes have taken place. Turkey, which is familiar with the area, has also denied that it conducted airstrikes in Iraq.
Nevertheless, The New York Times reports that Kurdish officials believe that two targets in northern Iraq were struck on Thursday night from the air. CNN has reported that Kurdish sources believe the Iraqi air force may be responsible for the strikes, but earlier reports indicated that the Iraqi air force is not capable of carrying out sophisticated attacks on ground-based targets.
Fighter planes regularly accompany humanitarian airlift operations, and it is possible that American airstrikes accompanying an airlift operation occurred. As is often the case with preliminary reports emanating from a warzone, confusion reigns.