Update: Two U.S. military airplanes conducted a strike against Islamic State militants artillery on Friday in northern Iraq.
Rear Admiral John Kirby, the Pentagon's press secretary, said the planes dropped laser-guided bombs on a mobile artillery unit at 6:45 a.m. EST. The militants used the gun to shell Kurdish forces in Irbil.
President Barack Obama said that "America is coming to help” Iraqis who are trapped and threatened by Islamist militants. Speaking from the White House late on Thursday, the U.S. president authorized targeted air strikes and humanitarian flights over northern Iraq.
United States officials are considering several plans designed to help religious minorities in northern Iraq.
Islamic State militants captured the area during the night. The militants asked the Yazidis, a minority Christian group, to accept Islam, leave their homes or face death. The Islamic State was formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
As many as 40,000 people are reported trapped on a mountaintop in northern Iraq. They have little food or water.
A spokesman for President Barack Obama said “the situation is nearing a humanitarian catastrophe.” But the spokesman noted, “there are no American military solutions to the problems in Iraq.”
A State Department official said the U.S. is looking at a number of possible actions and “actively considering” what else it can do.
A Defense Department official said that the U.S. is “working urgently and directly with officials in Baghdad and Irbil to coordinate Iraqi airdrops to people in need.”
Pope Francis appealed to the international community to help end what he called the "humanitarian tragedy" in Iraq.
Khmer Rouge Leaders Get Life Sentences
A United Nations tribunal in Cambodia sentenced two former Khmer Rouge leaders to life in prison.
The court found the two defendants, Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea, guilty of crimes against humanity. The two showed little emotion as their sentences were read.
The court ruling came more than 35 years after the fall of the Khmer Rouge. The group has been blamed for the deaths of one-fourth of the Cambodian population.
NATO to Russia: Step Back
NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has warned Russia against an invasion of Ukraine. He also called for an immediate withdrawal of troops along the border between the countries. In his words, “Step back from the brink, step back from the border and [do] not use peacekeeping as an excuse for war-making.”
Mr. Rasmussen spoke during a visit to Kyiv.
Words in the News
minority – n. the smaller number; opposite majority
catastrophe – n. a terrible disaster; a momentous tragic event
option – n. an act of choosing
sentence – v. to declare the punishment for a crime; n. the punishment for a crime
caution – v. to warn or tell about a possible danger or problem
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