Obama Mulls Airstrikes, Aid to Help Trapped Iraqis

Decision on Yazidi surrounded by Islamic State expected 'imminently'

By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 7, 2014 1:38 PM CDT

(Newser) – Both passive and active options are on the table as President Obama decides how to handle the humanitarian catastrophe developing at Iraq's Mount Sinjar, says a senior administration official who spoke to the New York Times. The passive alternative: Airdrops of food and much-needed medicine to the 40,000 Yazidi religious minorities said to be dying of hunger and thirst, according to the Washington Post. The more active option: conducting airstrikes against the Islamic State extremists who've camped out at the base of the mountain. A decision from the Oval Office is expected "imminently," says a second White House source, adding, "this could be a fast-moving train."

Obama reportedly instructed the Pentagon to draw up a game plan for possible military action during a meeting with his national security team today, notes NBC News. Iraqi airdrops to the refugees earlier this week fell short, with water and milk bottles smashing to bits, according to the Post. "Is help coming?" one of the trapped Yazidi asked the Post when contacted on his cellphone. "I'm standing here next to an old lady and a child lying on the ground. They are not dead, but we fear they are dying." UNICEF says it has received reports that 40 children have perished already on the mountain.

President Barack Obama speaks at the US Africa Business Forum during the US Africa Leaders Summit, in Washington on Aug. 5, 2014.
President Barack Obama speaks at the US Africa Business Forum during the US Africa Leaders Summit, in Washington on Aug. 5, 2014.   (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
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