The authorization by President Barack Obama of airstrikes against ISIS positions and airdrops to help stranded Yazidis whose towns were overrun by the Islamic militant group was welcomed by Iraqis and Kurds on Friday. While the airstrikes have yet to be executed, Iraqis in the northern part of the country have received the airdrops of food and water.
"We thank Barack Obama,” Khalid Jamal Alber, a Kurdish official in northern Iraq, told the Associated Press.
The airdrops, which delivered food and water to stranded Yazidis, a religious minority largely centered in northern Iraq, came “just in time,” said Satar Nawrouz, spokesman for the Ministry of the Displaced in Baghdad. As many as 200,000 Yazidis and Kurds fled their towns this week after ISIS took control of Zumar and Sinjar from Kurdish peshmerga forces. The Yazidis who stayed behind congregated in the mountains around Sinjar; about 50,000 of them are believed to be stranded.
Other Iraqis were waiting for the airstrikes on ISIS to resume.
"We are pleased with the airstrikes and we hope we can go back to our properties," said Luay Jana, a 43-year-old Christian refugee from Qaraqoush, the largest Christian village in Iraq, near the Kurdish capital of Irbil. About 3,000 Christians fled the town after ISIS took control of it.
Meanwhile, the Islamic State said Thursday it captured 17 more Iraqi cities, towns and villages, as well as the Mosul Dam, which delivers water and electricity to Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, and Baghdad. The militant group threatened to “march in all directions” after it created a caliphate using territory it claimed in Iraq and Syria.