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Obama mulls US airstrikes to help trapped religious minorities in Iraq

Published on Aug 8, 2014 1:23 AM
Displaced people from the minority Yazidi sect, fleeing the violence in the Iraqi town of Sinjar west of Mosul, take refuge at Dohuk province, August 7, 2014. Islamic State militants extended their gains in northern Iraq on Thursday, seizing more towns and strengthening a foothold near the Kurdish region in an offensive that has alarmed the Baghdad government and regional powers. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - US 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.

Mr 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-minute drive of the Kurdish capital of Arbil.

They inflicted a humiliating defeat on Kurdish forces over the weekend, prompting tens of thousands from the ancient Yazidi community to flee the town of Sinjar for surrounding mountains.

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