On Thursday, the Pentagon revealed that the Yazidi minorities have been encircled by Islamic State forces on Mt. Sinjar for weeks were in much better shape. Military officials determined that select airstrikes on ISIS positions around the mountain had been successful, and some Yazidis had already evacuated the area.
Defense officials determined that the success of contingency operations against ISIS in western Iraq indicated that no further action would need to be undertaken. In a press conference on Thursday, President Barack Obama confirmed that the mission to save the Yazidis had been a success. He added that, while the U.S. would still execute airstrikes against ISIS forces that threaten American assets or personnel, the rescue phase of the mission in Iraq had been accomplished.
“We broke the ISIL siege of Mt. Sinjar, we helped vulnerable people reach safety, and we helped save many innocent lives,” Obama said. “The majority of the military personnel who conducted the assessment will be leaving Iraq in the coming days.”
Obama did note, however, that the crisis on the ground in Iraq is far from being resolved:
“Now, the situation remains dire for Iraqis subject to ISIL’s terror throughout the country, and this includes minorities like Iraqi Christians,” he added. “It also includes many Sunnis, Shia and Kurds.”
CNN’s Jim Sciutto had an interesting observation about this statement.
— Jim Sciutto (@jimsciutto) August 14, 2014
Not especially encouraging.
Nor was CNN Pentagon reporter Barbara Starr’s dispatch just following the conclusion of Obama’s declaration of temporary victory.
Pentagon says about 5,000 #Yazidis still on mountain. Relief orgs report many still dying on way to refugee camps.
— Barbara Starr (@barbarastarrcnn) August 14, 2014
The United Nations also apparently disagrees with the president.
Contra Obama, a UN official JUST briefed the press, saying the situation on Mt. Sinjar is exceedingly dire. several thousand stranded
— Mark Leon Goldberg (@MarkLGoldberg) August 14, 2014
Those Kurds and Yazidis who had been celebrating America’s entrance into the war in Iraq against the medieval fundamentalists bent on exterminating them must be discouraged by Obama’s declaration of victory.
It is unlikely that the president’s statement marked the end of America’s broader fight against ISIS in Iraq. As the media continues to broadcast images of terror and atrocity in Iraq, the president’s claims of triumph are soon going to appear quite premature.