Obama weighs expansion of military offensive in Iraq

Photo: Obama weighs expansion of military offensive in Iraq / Arab World

The United States is considering a new military offensive in the Turkmen town of Amerli, north of the Iraqi capital Baghdad, to break the siege of the town by ISIL terrorists, the Pentagon says, Press TV reported.

On Wednesday, Iraqi troops were also preparing for an operation to end the blockade of the town in Salahuddin province where about 12,000 to 15,000 Shia Turkmen are surrounded by ISIL and have no access to food or water.

"We are aware that there are humanitarian crises and human suffering throughout Iraq. This includes Amirli," Pentagon spokesman Army Col. Steve Warren on Wednesday.

"Providing relief for humanitarian situations through air operations is one of the missions that we've been authorized to conduct," Warren said.

Thousands of Shia fighters also gathered in Tuz Khurmatu, some 25 kilometers (15 miles) northeast of the town, to help with the operation.

Iraqi security forces were also mobilizing in Hamrin Mountains, located to the south of Amerli, said an army lieutenant general.

Iraqi planes, which have been targeting the Takfiris' positions there, launched at least nine strikes in the area on Tuesday, an army officer said.

Meanwhile, Nickolay Mladenov, the United Nations envoy in Iraq called for urgent help, saying the residents were facing a "possible massacre" should the terrorists overrun the town.

Iraq has been fighting the ISIL terrorists since they took control of Mosul on June 10. The takeover was followed by the fall of the city of Tikrit, located 140 kilometers (87 miles) northwest of the capital Baghdad. The control of Tikrit was later retaken by the Iraqi army.

The ISIL terrorists have been committing heinous crimes in the captured areas, including the mass execution of civilians and Iraqi security forces.

Soldiers of the Iraqi army have been engaged in heavy fighting with the militants on different fronts and have so far been able to push back militants in several areas.

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