New US strikes, aid drops as Obama vows to save stranded Iraqis

 New US strikes, aid drops as Obama vows to save stranded Iraqis
U.S. Army parachute riggers with the 11th Quartermaster Company, 264th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 82nd Sustainment Brigade palletise halal meals for a humanitarian airdrop over Iraq at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia in this August 7, 2014 photo released on August 9, 2014.

ARBIL, Iraq - The United States carried out new air strikes and aid drops Saturday, as President Barack Obama vowed to help rescue thousands of civilians besieged by jihadists on an Iraqi mountain.

Obama gave no timetable for the first US operation in Iraq since the last American troops withdrew three years ago and put the onus on Iraqi politicians to form an inclusive government and turn the tide on jihadist expansion.

US forces hit out on the campaign's second day to protect members of the Yazidi minority, many of whom have been stranded on Mount Sinjar since they fled IS attacks on their homes a week ago.

US forces "successfully (conducted) four airstrikes to defend Yazidi civilians being indiscriminately attacked" near Sinjar, the United States Central Command, which covers the Middle East, said in a statement.

In the first strike, at 1520 GMT, "a mix of US fighters and remotely piloted aircraft struck one of two ISIL armored personnel carriers firing on Yazidi civilians near Sinjar," the statement said.

After following the remaining vehicle, a second pair of strikes, around 20 minutes later, hit two more armored personnel carriers and an armed truck.

The fourth, at around 1900 GMT, struck another armored personnel carrier also in the Sinjar area.

US and Iraqi aircraft have also sent planes to deliver food and water to the thousands of people, many of them Yazidi civilians, stranded on the mountain.

The third US airdrop, announced by Centcom late Saturday, sent 3,804 gallons of water and more than 16,000 packaged meals to the besieged civilians.

"The United States can't just look away. That's not who we are. We're Americans. We act. We lead. And that's what we're going to do on that mountain," Obama said Saturday.

France and Britain announced that aid consignments of their own were imminent.

Two Royal Air Force (RAF) C-130 transport planes took off from Britain Saturday carrying reusable filtration containers filled with clean water, tents, tarpaulins and solar lights that can also recharge mobile phones.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius was expected in Baghdad and the Iraqi Kurdish city of Arbil later Sunday for talks with his Iraqi counterpart Hoshyar Zebari and Iraqi Kurdish president Massud Barzani.

He will also oversee the delivery of humanitarian aid to civilians who have fled the advance of the Islamist fighters.

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