US sending Iraq humanitarian aid, weighing strikes

WASHINGTON (AP) — Administration officials say President Barack Obama has approved airdrops of humanitarian supplies to thousands of religious minorities trapped in the mountains in northern Iraq by an Islamic extremist group.

And the officials say the president is also considering whether to combine that assistance with U.S. airstrikes.

The humanitarian supplies would go to assist the tens of thousands of Yazidis (yah-ZEE’-dees) trapped without food and water. The Yazidis, who follow an ancient religion with ties to Zoroastrianism, fled their homes after the Islamic State group issued an ultimatum to convert to Islam, pay a religious fine, flee their homes or face death.

There are American military trainers in the area now threatened by the group Islamic State. Its fighters have made gains toward the Kurdish capital city of Irbil (ur-BEEL’). Other U.S. interests in Irbil include a diplomatic consulate.

Obama has consulted today with his national security team. He could make an announcement as early as tonight.

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