President Barack Obama said on Thursday that the United States’ recent military mission in Iraq has been successful and that he does not expect to have to evacuate the Yazidi popular who had been stranded with no water or food on a mountain.
Obama said thousands of Yazidis have been able to leave the mountain and the United States is unlikely to continue dropping food or water on the mountain top.
“The situation on the mountain has greatly improved, and Americans should be very proud of our efforts,” Obama told reporters on Martha’s Vineyard, where he is on a two-week vacation with his family. “Because of the skill and professionalism of our military and the generosity of our people, we broke the (Islamic militant) siege of Mount Sinjar, we helped vulnerable people reach safety, and we helped save many innocent lives.”
Obama ordered last week targeted airstrikes and food and water drops to help one of Iraq’s oldest minorities, stranded without food or water on a mountaintop where temperatures can reach 120 degrees, and with militant jihadists below, reportedly bent on giving them a choice of religious conversion or death.
Since last Friday, the United States has dropped nearly 114,000 military meals-ready-to-eat and more than 35,000 gallons of water in seven air drops. In recent days, Great Britain also began making aid deliveries. The Pentagon also conducted a total of 24 air strikes on Islamic State targets since Friday.
“Our military was able to successfully strike ISIL targets around the mountains, which improved conditions for civilians to evacuate the mountain safely,” Obama said.
Obama said a small team of Americans, military and civilian, completed a review of the conditions on the mountain Wednesday and found that food and water had been reaching those in need, and that thousands of people have been evacuating safely each night.
“I just want to say that as commander in chief, I could not be prouder of the men and women of our military who carried out this humanitarian operation almost flawlessly,” he said. “I'm very grateful to them. And I know that those who were trapped on that mountain are extraordinarily grateful, as well.”
Obama said the United States will continue to provide assistance in Iraq, where Islamic militants known as ISIL or ISIS are terrorizing includes minorities, including Yazidis and Christians, as well as many Sunnis, Shia and Kurds.
“We will continue air strikes to protect our people and facilities in Iraq,” Obama said. “We have increased the delivery of military assistance to Iraqi and Kurdish forces fighting ISIL on the front lines. And, perhaps most importantly, we are urging Iraqis to come together to turn the tide against ISIL above all by seizing the enormous opportunity of forming a new inclusive government.”
Obama said he spoke to the prime minister nominee, who stressed the need for the need of an inclusive government.
“He still has a challenging task in putting a government together, but we are modestly hopeful that the Iraqi government situation is moving in the right direction.”