FoxNews on August 31, 2014, reported that U.S. warplanes carried out airstrikes and dropped humanitarian aid on August 30 to Shia Turkmen who have been trapped and besieged by Islamic State militants for two months in the town of Amirli, a U.S. senior defense official confirmed to Fox News.
Aircraft from Australia, France and Britain joined the U.S. in delivering the aid to the farming community about 105 miles north of Baghdad, Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby said in a statement. The aid came at the request of the Iraqi government, he said.
“These military operations were conducted under authorization from the Commander-in-Chief to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance and to prevent an ISIL attack on the civilians of Amirli,” Kirby said. “The operations will be limited in their scope and duration as necessary to address this emerging humanitarian crisis and protect the civilians trapped in Amirli.”
A statement from U.S. Central Command (Centcom) said the airstrikes and aid drop took place at approximately 8:30 p.m. Eastern Time Saturday. The aid drop consisted of 109 bundles containing approximately 10,500 gallons of fresh water and approximately 7,000 meals ready to eat (MRE). Centcom said the airstrikes destroyed three ISIS Humvees, one ISIS armed vehicle, one ISIS checkpoint and one ISIS tank. The attacks bring the total number of airstrikes in Iraq to 118 since August 8.
Instead of fleeing in the face of the Islamic State drive across northern Iraq, the Shiite Turkmens have stayed and fortified their town of 15,000 with trenches and armed positions.
Iraqi troops began a coordinated push to retake the town from ISIS on August 30. Its water and electricity have been cut off since June and surrounded by militants since mid-July.
The Turkmen are Iraq’s third largest ethnic group after Arabs and Kurds. They make up about 4 percent of Iraq’s population. Iraqi forces were airlifted into the area on August 30.
Earlier on August 30, U.S. Central Command said five more airstrikes carried out by fighter aircraft and unmanned drones had taken place against Islamic State militants near Mosul Dam.
The Associated Press and Fox News’ Jennifer Griffin contributed to this report.