President Barack Obama has authorised air strikes against Islamic State (IS) militants in northern Iraq.
He referred to the siege of Yazidi refugees in the Sinjar mountains as having the potential for “genocide”.
“When we face a situation like we do on that mountain, with innocent people facing the prospect of violence on a horrific scale and we have a mandate to help – in this case a request from the Iraqi government – and when we have unique capabilities to act to avoid a massacre, I believe the United States cannot turn a blind eye,” he said in a statement from the White House last night.”
He added: “Earlier this week, one Iraqi said no-one is coming to help. Well, today America is coming to help,” he said.
The strikes have not yet begun but last night US forces has made humanitarian air drops to Iraqis under threat from the militants.
This morning, Prime Minister David Cameron said he “utterly condemns the barbaric attacks” by Islamist “terrorists” across Iraq. He said that he was “especially concerned” for the Yazidi community trapped in the mountains.
Yesterday, IS overran Qaraqosh, Iraq’s biggest Christian town, forcing the population of the town, many of them Christian, to flee. The Islamists are now reported to be advancing towards the Kurdish stronghold of Irbil.
Last night the the UN security council criticised the attacks and urged international support for the Iraqi government. This follow’s Pope Francis’s call for the international community to help those being persecuted in Iraq.
The Catholic Herald comment guidelines
•Do not make personal attacks on writers or fellow commenters – respond only to their arguments.