On Thursday evening, President Obama ordered the use of force in Northern Iraq to prevent the spread of Sunni extremists, known as the Islamic State, from spreading their brutal control into Kurdish territory. The strikes are also intended to help some 200,000 refugees flee from the combat area.
Meanwhile, the United States intends to send assistance to some 40,000 members of the ethno-religious Yazidi community currently stranded without food, water, or shelter on the top of Mount Sinjar.
Here is what you need to know:
1. The US Bombed IS Artillery in Northern Iraq
— Alastair Jamieson (@alastairjam) August 8, 2014
On Friday the United States navy announced that aircraft had dropped two laser-guided 500 pound bombs on Islamic State artillery outside Erbil. The bombs were dropped by two American F/18 fighter jets.
2. Extremists Are Advancing on the Kurdish City of Erbil
The Sunni militants have been advancing on Erbil, the largest Kurdish city with a population over around 1.5 million people, for the last few days.
Kurdish soldiers have been an important factor in the fight to hinder the advancement of the Islamic State.
3. The US Plan is to Allow Assistance to Get to Stranded Yazidis
According to the BBC, the United Nations in tandem with the United States military operation is aiming to open up a “humanitarian corridor” for refugees and people fleeing violence to be able to remove themselves and their families from harm’s way.
One of these groups are an estimated 40,000 members of the Yazidi ethno-religious minority community. Since the IS swept through their village of Sinjar, killing around 500 men, the rest of the community sought refuge at the top of Mount Sinjar where they are without food, water, or shelter. Dozens of children and the elderly had already died by the time the US declared their intention to avert a humanitarian disaster.
4. 72 Bundles Of Supplies Have Already Been Dropped
According to the BBC, the first airdrop to the stranded Yazidis have already been delivered with planes dropping 72 bundles of food and water able to feed 8,000 people.
5. The Mosul Dam Has Been Taken
The state department has confirmed that Islamic State soldiers have seized the strategic Mosul Dam, Iraq’s largest dam. The dam powers the 1.5 million person city of Mosul and could put most of Iraq underwater if it were to be destroyed or overflowed. It is unclear at this time if American, Kurdish, or Iraqi forces are prepared an attempt to retake the dam.