"If the Islamic State storms our town everyone will be killing their wives and children."
The US military has attacked Islamic State positions around the besieged Iraqi town of Amerli, where thousands of Shia Turkmen have been cut off from food and water for nearly two months by the group.
John Kirby, the US department of defence spokesman, said on Sunday that President Barack Obama authorised the "limited" military operation to prevent an Islamic State attack on Amerli and to enable an aid drop to those in the town.Kirby said the aid came at the request of the Iraqi government and that the US military conducted the raids to support the aid delivery, the AP news agency reported.
He added that aircraft from Australia, France and the UK had joined the US in the aid drop. The strikes come as Iraq launched a major operation to liberate the besieged town, with support from Shia militias. The AFP news agency reported that Kurdish peshmerga were also involved in the operation.
Residents of Amerli, who are in danger because of their faith and their resistance to the armed group, have vowed to kill themselves rather than risk capture by the group. Al Jazeera's Jane Arraf, reporting from Baghdad, said on Saturday that any air strikes by the US around Amerli would widen its mandate in Iraq of protecting US personel and critical Iraqi infrastructure.
She said men in the town had taken up arms against the Islamic State and had been resisting the group for weeks.
"They're backed by Shia militia members who have been flown into the town by Iraqi helicopters - then around that you've got the circle of Islamic State fighters and around that from both sides you have the militias and the Iraqi army." "If the operation fails the fear is it could lead to even more sectarian violence."
The Islamic State group, an al-Qaeda off-shoot formerly known as ISIL, has declared an Islamic caliphate in large swathes of territory it seized in recent months in Syria and Iraq.
The Turkmen, ethnically Turkish, are Iraq’s third largest ethnic group after Arabs and Kurds. Most are Sunni Muslim.
Source: Al Jazeera