NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Sen. Charles Schumer endorsed the U.S. airstrikes in Iraq on Sunday, but the New York Democrat said he is against sending troops back there.
As WCBS 880’s Monica Miller reported, Schumer said President Barack Obama has an obligation to protect U.S. Embassy employees working with refugees in Erbil, Iraq.
“You have 200,000 or more of these Yazidis, who are an old-time religion, not Muslim, who ISIS hates,” Schumer said during a news conference in Central Park.
But the state’s senior senator said he hopes never to send soldiers back into Iraq and wants to get the U.S. out of the nation-building business.
“But to use drones and reconnaissance and intelligence, which will protect our homeland from somebody setting up a base in ISIS territory and hurting us, that should be allowed,” Schumer said.
Schumer said the use of drones and reconnaissance wiped out al Qaeda in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. The same will happen in Iraq, he said.
Meanwhile Sunday, Kurdish forces retook two towns from the Sunni militants that have seized large parts of northern Iraq, said a senior Kurdish military official, amid a building international response that has included air drops of aid and airstrikes.
Brig. Gen. Shirko Fatih said the Kurdish fighters were able to push the militants of the Islamic State group out of the villages of Makhmour and al-Gweir some 28 miles from Erbil, in one of the first victories by the Kurdish forces that until now have been in retreat.
The victories by the radical Sunni militants that adhere to an extremist intolerant interpretation of Islam have sent tens of thousands of the country’s minorities fleeing from their homes in fear in a situation that has grabbed world attention.
The United States announced a fourth round of airstrikes Sunday against militant vehicles and mortars firing on Erbil as part of its small-scale series of attacks meant to discourage the Sunni fighters from endangering U.S. personnel near the Kurdish capital.
During a visit to Baghdad, France’s foreign minister said during that Paris will provide “several tons” of aid to hundreds of thousands of internally displaced people and called upon leaders in Baghdad to unite against Sunni militants who have seized large parts of the country.
Speaking at a press conference with Iraq’s acting Foreign Minister Hussain al-Shahristani, Laurent Fabius said his visit is aimed at boosting humanitarian efforts in northern Iraq, where tens of thousands of minority Yazidis have fled into the mountains and even into neighboring Syria to escape the extremist Islamic State group.
The actions of the militants may even constitute “crimes against humanity,” warned the European Union in a statement, in which it said it was “appalled by the rapid deterioration of the humanitarian situation.”
Britain for its part said its air force has already dropped water containers and solar lanterns over the Sinjar mountains where the Yazidis have taken refuge with little food and water. An ancient religion with links to Zoroastrianism, the Yazidis have been given a choice of converting to Islam or dying, by the militants.
U.S. fighter jets and drones have also attacked militants firing on the Yazidis around Sinjar, which is in the far west of the country near the Syrian border.
After Kurdish fighters opened a path to the border, thousands of Yazidis have been pouring across the river into Kurdish-controlled parts of Syria.
Those crossing told The Associated Press they had lost their sisters, daughters, children and their elderly parents, describing militants randomly spraying machine gun fire in their direction as they fled.
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