The Pentagon gave an update on its operations in Iraq on Friday stating that the U.S. military conducted another successful airdrop of food and water for thousands of Iraqi citizens threatened by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) on Mount Sinjar, Iraq.
This airdrop was conducted from multiple airbases within the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility and as with last night, included one C-17 and two C-130 cargo aircraft that together dropped a total of 72 bundles of supplies. The cargo aircraft were escorted by two F/A-18s from the USS George H.W. Bush.
The C-17 dropped some 40 container delivery system bundles of meals ready to eat and was complemented by a C-130 loaded with an additional 16 bundles totaling 28,224 meals. In addition, one C-130 dropped 16 bundles totaling 1,522 gallons of fresh drinking water.
To date, in coordination with the government of Iraq, U.S. military aircraft have delivered 36,224 meals and 6,822 gallons of fresh
drinking water, providing much-needed aid to Iraqis who urgently require emergency assistance.
The statement underlined that the United States military would continue to work with the Department of State as well as international partners including the Government of Iraq, the United Nations, and non-government organizations to assess the need for additional humanitarian operations in Iraq going forward.
Over a decade after the military intervention by the United States in Iraq and completion of formal withdrawal of U.S. troops in December 2011, Washington is back in the game as the ISIL threatens peace not only in Iraq but the entire region. This time around, the administration is not risking to put boots on the ground but rather chose to conduct airstrikes supplementary to the humanitarian effort to save the Iraqi civilians from starvation in the conflict zone.
The strategy resembles that of the Clinton administration in 1995 when the White House decisively committed to end the advance of the Serbs in Bosnia and Croatia. In August 1995, a few weeks after the news broke on the mass killings of Bosnian Muslims in and around Srebrenica, U.S. aided the start of Operation Storm, a Croat offensive to retake the Serbian-held Srpska Krajina; and then NATO planes pummeled the Bosnian Serb strongholds driving Serbs, who then were in control of as much as 70% of the Bosnian territory, back and forcing them to the negotiations. And all that without a single American serviceman on the ground.
This time though, the United States is dealing with a non-state actor whose numbers are not apparent and keep growing. The strikes are intended to provide timing and relief for the defending Iraqi army. It is unknown at this point how long the strikes will continue.