Update: Obama authorized airstrikes “if necessary” during a news conference this evening. He also announced a humanitarian mission.
“At the direction of the Commander in Chief, the U.S. military conducted a humanitarian assistance operation in Northern Iraq to air drop critical meals and water for thousands of Iraqi citizens threatened by ISIL near Sinjar,” a senior Defense Department official said. “The mission was conducted by a number of U.S. military aircraft under the direction of U.S. Central Command. The aircraft that dropped the humanitarian supplies have now safely exited the immediate airspace over the drop area.”
The Islamic State, formerly ISIS, captured a number of cities in northern Iraq on Thursday and is poised to take Erbil, the capitol and largest city in the Kurdistan region of Iraq.
The Christian city of Qaraqosh, southeast of Mosul, fell on Thursday as did Tel Askof, Tel Keif and Qaramless. The towns now stand empty as a testament to the terror of ISIS as it continues capturing territory in northern Iraq.
The Consulate General of the United States is located in Erbil. The city of 1.5 million was until recently considered a refuge from ISIS. Many of the 500,000 people who have fled the rapid advance of ISIS have converged on the city.
Over the last week the Obama administration has reportedly moved an aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf in anticipation of action against the radical Sunni group now said to have the military strength of an army.
In July ISIS threatened to plant car bombs outside every American embassy in the world if the United States intervened in Iraq.
“If the United States bomb Iraq, every American citizen is a legitimate target,” a message online threatened.
In response to the threat all 294 U.S. diplomatic outposts were placed on high alert.